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Help a newbie set up a system? (Read 4486 times)
garnold
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Help a newbie set up a system?
04/18/13 at 16:10:34
 
Hi folks!  I'm an audiophile newbie who is looking to set up his first (and possibly second) real system.  I've been haunting the board here for a while as I research amps and speakers and whatnot.  I'm really impressed with what I hear (hah!) about Decware and Steve.  But now I've reached a point where I need to ask for some advice/help on my foray into the world of hi-fi...

I'm stepping up (*cough*divorced*cough*) from a typical HTIB system that was used for movies and occasional music to two systems in two rooms (in a house I haven't moved into yet, so my measurements are a bit eyeball).

The first room, the living room, will be completely music-oriented.  I listen to all kinds of music -- electronica (from ambient to dance/EBM), industrial, rock (modern & classic), rap, jazz, classical, singer/songwriter, even some country and opera on rare occasions.  Listening will range from background music with friends over for dinner to evening relaxation with a glass of wine to occasional rock-out sessions.  The room itself is about 10'x22' (+/- 2' in either dimension), with one half of one long wall open into other space - a stairwell and entry hallway.

The second room, the "media" room, will be for mixed movies and musical enjoyment.  It's much smaller, maybe 8'x12', and completely closed.  Nice and smooth zone-out music and punchy movie audio, here.

Both rooms will be sourced via Sonos.  The media room will also have an XBox and Raspberry Pi for video content.  So, all base source material is digital.

Initially, I was thinking of setting up the living room with Sonos -> Maverick Audio Tubemagic D2 -> SE34I -> Zu Audio Omen Def. (This should also give you an idea of about where my budget is).  But now I've been looking at the Grant Fidelity DAC-11 instead of the D2 and maybe the Tekton Pendragon instead of the Omen Def.  You'll notice the Decware equipment stays at the eye of the storm.  ;)

First overall question -- a tube-based DAC/pre with a tube amp.  Too tubey?

So, living room questions.  Does anyone have experience with the D2 and/or the GF DAC-11 with Decware equipment?  Preferences between the two?  Same goes for the Pendragon vs the Omen Def.  Opinions?

Is the 6 watt SE34I into either of those speaker choices enough to fill 220+ sqft of space, musically?  Will I be able to rock out?  If I want bass that punches me in the chest, I'll reserve that for car audio, but you know....good, loud, fun music.  Or will I need to step up the amp power a bit?

For the media room, I'm less certain (it's definitely secondary).  Super Zen with Zu Audio Omens or Tekton Lores?  (Or Lore-S or Lore-M).

Or maybe, overall, Zu and Tekton aren't the way to go?

I thought I had this all figured out, but now I've reached this paralysis through analysis state.  I'm too much of a perfectionist, wanting to get it as close to perfect as possible without being an audiophile and possibly without even being able to hear the differences between any of the equipment choices above!  Am I being too anal about all this, should I just go for it and be happy with a really good system that maybe isn't that extra 5% better?  :-?

I don't know anyone who owns any of this equipment to audition with my own ears.  But I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area if anyone here takes pity and would like to show off..  ;)

Thanks, everyone, for reading my rambling slightly-incoherent questions.  Please feel free to ask me any questions.  Help me help you help me.  :)

Take care!

-g.
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beowulf
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #1 - 04/18/13 at 22:18:29
 
Hi g, welcome to the forums.  I'm not sure about the DACs as I have never heard them or know anybody that has. I do know that a lot of guys here use SS dacs though, so just because they are tubed doesn't mean they play any better than than the others.  I think DACs are a pretty subjective component. 

Considering the Zu Omen Def are 100dB @ 8 Ohms and the Tekton Pendragons are 98dB @ 8 Ohms, I think both speaker choices would be excellent pairing for Decware and for low wattage tube amps in general.  The "house sound" of each brand is the only thing that you would have to decide on.

Also, I'm not sure if you have been following any other forums on Tekton, but the wait time for Eric's speakers have been disappointing for a lot of people lately.  I've seen one thread where a person placed their order in September and got them in February (almost 6 months).  He is slammed for business which could both be a good thing and a bad thing depending on how you look at it and how patient you are. Grin

I think those efficient speakers combined with the Rachel would do good in your room size and should give you some good volume ... but I'm unsure if they would achieve "rave" levels that your neighbors on the next block could hear. But then again that's probably not why you would buy a low wattage SET anyways. Wink
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« Last Edit: 04/19/13 at 01:01:13 by beowulf »  
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will
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #2 - 04/19/13 at 00:32:32
 
Welcome garnold,

Sounds like fun decisions!

My SE34II.2 would go very loud for music in my approximately 13.5x28x9.5 room with my 94dB MG944s. With particularly quiet DVDs, it could be a little quiet, but we listen to movies loud to get that engulfing feeling. Music was always loud enough, though my room is pretty live. I have never determined why DVDs play quieter, or if it is something to do with my player...On very rare occasions, even with my Torii MkIII, I sometimes wish there was a touch more volume (93dB HR-1s), and have to turn up the Zstage a touch.

But these speakers are nowhere near as efficient as those you are talking about.

I am not familiar with those DACS either. Or with Sonos. If you are not already a music data freak, Decware and the speakers you are checking out are very revealing, and the file type will matter. I use uncompressed error corrected files.

I think the tube amp and tube pre, or DAC question you have is entirely dependent on tastes, quality of gear, and the built in sound of the gear. I use a Zstage (upgraded to Jupiter Beeswax caps - very transparent) with my Torii MkIII, and many Decware users use more than one tube component together. But in my opinion, this stuff is built to be transparent and musical, but again, in my opinion, not for euphonic intensity. Tube magic without being overstated is how I would put it....I gather some tube gear is about being more obviously "tubey."

My early version of the Rachael had a classic open midrange realism with quite good bass. I suspect the new version is better all around. But the bass was nothing like my Torii MkIII. Not saying this is a bad thing...just different. Also, bass will depend loads on component/cable synergy and room modes. Hopefully the speakers you choose have a trial period too. If you are coming from standard gear, Decware will likely be an amazing thing it is so revealing. So details of how each part sounds and how they all fit together can become more important. Sounds like you have done good research, and the speakers you are looking at are obviously built for low power, so I imagine you will get good bass from the combo.

Have fun! And finally, if amp choices become too difficult, you can call Steve and walk through your info and preferences with him...he has a really broad understanding of all this stuff.
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« Last Edit: 04/19/13 at 00:36:48 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, CSP3, TORII MkIV, Morrow SP-7, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PSAudio P5, PI Audio and DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
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RJR
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #3 - 04/19/13 at 01:31:47
 
Hi Garnold

I too had paralysis by analysis.  But I learned just to sit back and enjoy the music.  Though, I will give you my 2cents.

I originally had the SE34I.33 paired with ZU Omen Def's. The sound definitely had more mid's than bass.  I felt that the sound was extremely crisp and clear, like using headphones, but the bass was missing a bit.  The loudness will only reach a certain level, so you do have to realize that, too.  My room is very similar to yours.  So I opted for the MK3 and I have not looked back and I have kept the Zu Omen Def's.  The Tekton's were just too big for my room and I just felt more comfortable with Zu's product.

Now that I have had the components for some time and they have been broken in, so to speak, the sound is great.  Though, I will let you know that some recordings just don't sound good.  Especially rock from 80's and 90's, but not all.

Personally I don't think that you can go wrong selecting MK3 and Zu Omen Def's.  Just remember that you need to let everything settle in a bit and just enjoy!!!
 
If you have any more Q's just let me know.

Good Luck!
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will
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #4 - 04/19/13 at 02:11:53
 
Its so hard to talk about this stuff with everything based on personal taste and system and room synergy playing a huge roll in all perceived values. Just speaker cables can be bigtime...I have tried maybe 6 pair of speaker cables in this room, and they all make the system different with more or less emphasis on clarity, warmth, bass etc. And then there are tubes, feet, ICs, DACs, pre's, power conditioning and on and on, all tunable toward or away from a given sound quality.

Then there are variances in efficiency measurements relative to sound and that crap shoot.

I wish I had heard ZUs but from how folks tend to talk about them, they do seem particularly revealing....clear....

I went with Decware speakers because they are designed with and for Decware. It can get pretty tricky I think once you open the door to truly transparent sound, but my Decware speakers, in my room are good at bass.

More standard gear is apparently designed for perceived "warmth"...to mush stuff up with mid-bass and bass emphasis as part of this sound... making it more tolerant of room modes and lack of synergy, but then you never get that truly engrossing sound from it either.

Have you been watching the thread about "adding body and weight" using this.....  http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/mbm-12mk2.html  Sounds like a good thing whether one needs more bass or not, but definitely a relatively reasonable safety backup if whatever you end up with needs that low push.

As RJR says, I don't think you can much go wrong with the Torii MkIII either, but I believe there have been folks (some with Zu's) who thought the Torii a little too clean. Then again, there are many more of us who love it!

Anyway, I am just rambling...I am glad RJR spoke up from actual experience with this combo. And I hope more will.
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« Last Edit: 04/19/13 at 02:16:56 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, CSP3, TORII MkIV, Morrow SP-7, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PSAudio P5, PI Audio and DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
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garnold
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #5 - 04/19/13 at 16:10:28
 
Thanks, everyone, for the warm welcome!

beowulf:
Yes, the "house sound" is really what gives me pause on deciding between Zu and Tekton.  They each seem to have their own unique "signature" and people tend to either love it or hate it.  I'm hoping to snag one or two people in my area with these speakers that will give me a listen.  (I should go post more about that in Zu's forums, I suppose).

I'm impatient to get these audio systems rollin', but Im willing to be patient if it means a better outcome.  I'm trying to remain neutral and open to just the sound, not the wait time.

"Rave" volume levels aren't what I'm after, definitely.  I could save myself the headache and get a system that does those for 1/5 the price of the Zu's alone!   Shocked

Thanks for the advice!

will:
I definitely feel like a kid in a candy store.  Problem is, I've never tasted any of the candies, so I can't decide.  :)

The Mk3 certainly looks like a beautiful beast, but right now I think $3k is a bit rich for my blood.  I may start with the SE34I and see how that works for me -- if it's on the quiet side, a Mk3 gets put on order and the SE34I will move into the media room.  Hmm, a plan for me to consider.

The Sonos is a neat little stream-everything device, like a Roku for audio -- it can stream Rdio, Songza, Soma.fm, music from a server, and others.  I have a medium-sized collection of mp3s/oggs that I'm working on replacing with flacs.  The oggs tend to be higher quality (~192kbps or higher) than the mp3s.

I believe the speakers I'm considering have a trial period, so I should be covered there.  I was already planning to make a call to Steve be the final part of my research -- he sounds like a very nice and helpful guy, I just want to make sure I know enough to ask knowledgeable questions.  :)

Thanks for all the advice on speaker sound.  I'm curious what you mean by saying some find the Mk3 too "clean"?  I have my own idea of what a "clean" sound is, but what's yours?  (Side note, I always find it amusing/frustrating that most of our words for describing audio are borrowed from the tactile senses..."mushy", "soft", "smooth", etc.)

RJR:
Aha, first-hand experience with a combo I'm considering!  Did the Mk3s fill in the bass better than the SE34I, or were they just able to give you more volume overall?  That's a bummer about the 80s and 90s music...I don't listen to much of it, but that's my high school-years music, nostalgic.  :)

It looks like you've helped other newbies out in other postings, I think I'm going to stalk you for a bit.  :D

One question I do have, though.  As beowulf mentioned, the Zus have a certain "house sound".  I haven't run across any good descriptions of what that is, exactly, especially as compared to more traditional loudspeaker or HTIB setups.  Do you think you could help educate me on what that sound is?

Thanks again, everyone!  I feel much better about not going wrong after hearing from you.  Of course, now you all have me wondering about SE34I vs Mk3...  ;)  Now here's to hoping a Tekton owner wanders by..
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will
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #6 - 04/19/13 at 22:26:42
 
Garnold,

I understand your frustrations about language. I have been trying to be more descriptive for this reason...the worst for me is "I like them" or the like.

So too clean: This term has to do with the relatively uncolored and revealing quality of the Torii. Too clean seems somewhat interchangeable with sterile, cool, unforgiving, not warm enough, not euphonic enough....like this. But remember I am not in this school of thought, so this is not my opinion or explanation. I find my sound very engaging.

You could read over Torii threads for the big picture, but the touch of romance thread goes there some http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1309716798 I think in these comments it is important to read between the lines too. A system that has been adapted to a more euphonic amp has all its parts tuned to that amp. Add a more neutral amp to this and the ICs or power cords, or room tweaks (or whatever) that brightened up the old system just right may need adjustment for the more uncolored amp. Or did they order V-caps...famous for some folks as the best, and for others as too cool or sterile.

I know in my own system/room that many things can weigh my sound toward or away from a more "romantic" vibe (I prefer euphonic) but my setup may be close to neutral and I don't think a lot of systems fall into this category, the room having so much influence....sucking out certain frequency areas and compounding others.

I am not recommending the Torii necessarily, though I love it. It is a great amp with lots of flexibility uncommon in tube amps...treble, Bass, bias and impedance adjustments alone are pretty amazing and powerful. Then there are 5 tube sets that all can make a notable difference individually, so you can imagine the possibilities with multiple tube synergy.

But really, I think about buying a Rachael as a second amp all the time. I loved my SE34I.2. And in the context of RJRs experience and recommendation of the Torii...I agree...if there is a potential issue with bass, the Torii has more notable bass in its signature than the SE 34 for sure. I had to do a lot of room stuff after changing to the Torii. I can't say that it is just the power, thinking it is in part the specific design, how the amp adapts with power in milliseconds to speaker impedance variations. Also signature choices. And though it sounds like a juiced up SE, it is a push pull with relatively a lot of power.

Judging from your comments, I like your idea of the Rachael with Torii as a background option with the Rachel going to room two one day if need be.

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« Last Edit: 04/19/13 at 23:52:57 by will »  

Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, CSP3, TORII MkIV, Morrow SP-7, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PSAudio P5, PI Audio and DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
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marky
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #7 - 04/20/13 at 12:48:35
 
garnold -
To make your choice easier Wink I can speak as the owner of a pair of Rachaels bridged for mono`s, through the CSP2+, so the basic config.
Cost less than the Mk3 and only two* sets of tubes to use as a pallette.
Ample bass and powerfull. I dont know the voltage outputs of your sources but if they are higher than my cartridge, and similar to my Nak cassette, then very powerfull sound. I have some room treatment and find it is all about what is on the album and how it is recorded. Some recordings are planted between speakers and most, when the engineer uses all his tools, can be sumptuous. How Zappa found time to do what he did and record his albums equisitly is a testament. The soundstage is wide and getting wider as the Decware amps mature. I knew my speakers could produce music out side of their edges with quality amps and thats whats happening. ( I have them wide apart to start and the centre is very, very solid ) So there you are SET set up that can sound epic.
But... and here is your finger tapping quandry I have no doubt that the Mk3 will sound brill, as will all the Decware range. I doubt I`ll ever hear the MK3 but I love reading about it.
* plus rectifier
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« Last Edit: 04/20/13 at 18:29:47 by marky »  
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RJR
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #8 - 04/20/13 at 13:50:00
 
Garnold

I do like Marky's set up, but I just do not have the room.  Maybe someday.

I will speak from practical experience.  Many of the folks on these forums are very experienced and knowledgeable.  Don't take their suggestions lightly.  But at the end of the day you will ultimately have to, at least, try something.  Decware gives you 30 days (may not be enough time).  Zu gives you 60 days and Tekton gives you 30 days.

For me, I just did not have the time to travel all over VA and NC finding audio dealerships to listen to their set ups.  I also did not know anyone that I could listen to their set up or borrow equipment.  So after countless hours with Steve at Decware, Sean at ZU and forums, I took the plunge.  Actually I wanted as many components made in the USA.  I had a Home Theater set up and wanted to get back to Hi-fi.

SE34I:  Now, do not misunderstand me, the SE34I was very nice and I do miss it.  The sound out of the speakers sounded as though you had headphones on.  Though, for me, it was heavier in the mids and I felt it a bit light in the bass.  That is my opinion and I could not do A/B comparisons.  It did play loud enough for my tastes. Maybe the sound was fine, but I JUST wanted and had to have the MK3.  This is my system for a very, very long time and I invested $$$.  Every forum I read and opinion of SET amps are that they are a different sound.  OH, oh.  You now are dazed-and-confused.  Though, remember that countless thousands love and enjoy their SET amps.

MK3:  I upgraded to the MK3 (wife not happy, oh well).  You have more control with sound and you definitely can tube roll.  I will tube roll someday. I hear things out of the speakers that I never imagined and the sound is great, at least, for my tastes.  I do believe that the MK3 is beginning to bloom more and come alive with more and more hours of play.  I think the marriage between Decware and ZU is great!  Regardless of your selection, Zu is a great product and they look great, too.

Recordings:  I mentioned about poor recordings.  All of my music is in FLAC and wirelessly fed to a Squeezebox Classic and then into a Channel Island DAC>Decware amp.  I listened to Peter Gabriel SO and it sounds great.  Then I listened to Peter Gabriel US and so, so.  Anything Mark Knopfler or Norah Jones sounds great.  Some Dire Straits' songs sound wonderful.  Not all 80's and 90's rock sound bad but I think they just mass produced recordings on CD's and just did not care about how they sounded.  Sell, sell, sell.  I know that LP's sound great and I will get a turntable someday, but for now this is my set up.

Misc:  I know many talk about tube rolling, these cables over these cables, this power supply or that one, wow this DAC was the best, room acoustics...forget it!  Paralysis by analysis.  Just take a deep breath, make a decision and listen to the MUSIC.  Yes it will sound different than you were used to.  Yes it will take time for the components to bloom.  Yes you will have to adjust and keep an open mind about the new sound.  But at the end of the day, you will appreciate a very refined sound and you will appreciate your taste of music even more!

If you require more info, please do not hesitate to ask!
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will
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #9 - 04/20/13 at 19:29:52
 
Wow, would I like to hear two Rachels and the CSP2 Marky!

My experience of entering truly real sounding gear was similar to RJRs. I had no access to to relatively low cost world class stuff. Then as we have all seen, in looking around the web, the very small company winners rise to the top, and they are scattered around the country. Decware, Turning Point, Zu, Tekton, DbAudiolabs, Dodd, Pi and many more.…the brave new world of internet access to these very intelligent music freaks with the built in necessity for trial periods since most can't easily audition the stuff. And forum discussions and reviews help us refine choices, but still it always comes down to our tastes and our system/room synergy or lack of it…making trial periods a must for me.

As I progressively explored system/room tuning toward really good synergy, one thing kept coming up...at this level of resolution, each part effects all the other parts. Below are the basic reasons that caused me to me look at this.

1) This gear can literally take us to a world class sense of realism in our own rooms with truly engrossing and life enhancing listening experiences. But unless we are very, very lucky with our choices and room, this will not happen without some effort, and without covering important basics necessary for this level of sound. My explorations have proven that with this quality gear, our sound potential can often be much greater than we imagine possible. It can be truly off the charts.

2) A big factor is this: Decware (and other brilliant gear), with its very simple and very well implemented signal paths can convey musical transparency and realistic harmonic information close to the way nature conveys sounds. In other words, like players in the room. The well implemented tube magic thing. At the same time, minimal design with quality parts tuned together to this end excludes filters to make the gear "forgiving," that is beyond the designers attempts to balance transparency and neutrality with musicality as the signature is developed.

This brings about the sort of issues inherent to great gear. When it is REALLY good, it is revealing…something that can make it suck or awe inspiring, and everywhere in between depending on the many things that make up a system/room and how we tune it all together.

I came to realizing this from challenging circumstances, but am glad it happened this way because I have learned a lot about tuning it all to take me where I want it to...to where amazement at the beauty is a daily experience.

Had I just been coming into this, and gotten my Torii MkIII (pre bass knobs) for my 944s, and not known I could ask Steve and Bob for help and  solutions within the context of my system/room…the Torii would have gone back. It brought out so much low and mid bass in my room that it was too dark sounding for me, and gave me cotton ear. On the other hand, you will find reports of Torii being too bright and a little sterile (and being returned or sold). And there are those who love it, but wish there was a bit more bass. Then there are the lucky ones (or those who have already sorted out their system/rooms) where the Torii just fits right in without much effort. This is the point…could this wildly varied experience be the Torii???

But once we get a relative balance in the room and good synergy, the fine details of sound that may have once been masked or exaggerated are all there, in which case adjustably and flexibility can be really helpful. Amp adjustments, tubes, cables, feet, power, speaker placement, etc can all become powerful tools toward the end of refinement of the engaging music in the home potential. This is not to say that this is necessary, but it is a possibility.

Everything in my system matters at this level of resolution, and how I deal with it can enhance or detract from the musical experience. The best amp and speaker combo with a weak source is a system hobbled by the source. Or a great source playing suboptimal files from a suboptimal server setup can't possibly make a good amp sound at its best. Put a bad IC between a great source and a great amp, and the IC can determine system limits. Even with everything reasonably high quality and synergistic, if there is a lot of vibration, the sound will be hobbled by how vibration effects sensitive, simple, and revealing gear like Decware tube amps. Or with all bases covered with good sounding and resolving parts, and set up impeccably in a room that has serious issues, the sound result can be far from great.

3) Sooooo…Though we can work our way through reviews and all of our various explanations from our various experiences, we can't really know until we try it at home. All of our system/rooms are different, and at the Decware level of musical transparency, even exactly the same gear set up in different rooms will sound different. And this is why I think reading between the lines of all of our attempts to help one another is important. It will not be the same for each of us, and what we interpret as a culprit may be accurate within a static context, but may not be within the highly adjustable big picture.

Pointing to variability and flexibility to me offers hope for those of us that are not as lucky as we had hoped with how our first choices fit what we already have. Or in my case, how great gear pointed out inherent problems in my system/room. But hopefully this makes diving in easier because these are complex but readable and adjustable systems where nothing is cast in stone…. sometimes just finding the right speaker location can solve lots of issues.

Finally, all this is a way of agreeing with RJR. After playing the research out a bit, we just have to start diving in and go from there. A lot of fun this hobby!!! And so rewarding when we can have the music blow our minds in our own rooms!
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Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, modded Oppo 83, CSP3, TORII MkIV, Morrow SP-7, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PSAudio P5, PI Audio and DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab feet and tube dampers
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Dom
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Still like that old
time Rock and Roll!!

Posts: 95
Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #10 - 04/21/13 at 07:01:47
 
Just as an FYI.....I was looking at the Maverick D2 for a DAC.  After getting some sound advice for alternative DAC's from fellow members...I would scrap the Maverick and look at the Schitt Bifrost at a comparable price point.  While the Maverick has a nice variety of inputs, the Bifrost is the better choice.  I have no personal experience with either of the two, but I am a research nut and when you look at the specs, there is no comparison.  

http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=...

I am a newbie as well when it comes to Decware.  Going to start with a Zstage for now paired with my current amp, and then get the  Schitt Bifrost or Gungnir in the upcoming months.  As far as the amp goes, I think I am going to hold out and just shoot for the Zen Torii when my budget can allow for that.  

Dominick

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beowulf
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #11 - 04/23/13 at 02:04:41
 
Quote:
Will,
Have you been watching the thread about "adding body and weight" using this.....  http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/mbm-12mk2.html  Sounds like a good thing whether one needs more bass or not, but definitely a relatively reasonable safety backup if whatever you end up with needs that low push.


I like the thought of this, it may be a better safety net than big monolithic style speakers.  Say instead of getting the Zu Omen Def, you could get a pair of Omens, Unions or even better the new Soul Mk.II and a pair of the Hsu Mid Bass Modules for around the same price and still be able to get to keep all the "SET Sexiness" and have enough bass to fill your room (especially at lower listening volumes) as described in that thread.

You could start off with:

1. Decware SE34I.3 (option 1 with upgraded caps) in a basic amp only config for $1520 (add a second SE34I.3 for bridged mono when your budget permits),

2. Decware CSP2+ (options = Stepped Attenuator, 2 Pair of Stereo Outputs and Cryo Treated Beeswax Caps)  for $1420,

3. Zu Audio Union $2400,

4. Hsu Research MBM-12 MK2 Mid-Bass Module (2 @ $499) $998,

5. Schitt Audio Gungnir $749,

6. Cables and misc $500.

This system is pretty flexible and you could always adjust it to meet your budget.  For instance you could get the Decware stuff w/o upgrades, drop down a level with the Zu Speakers (i.e. Omens), start out with only one Hsu Bass Module and then drop down the DAC to the Schitt Bifrost (which still has very good specs) and start out with basic cables from Blue Jean, etc.

Aside from the Bass Modules its almost entirely made in the USA too!
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« Last Edit: 04/23/13 at 02:57:36 by beowulf »  
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DBC
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #12 - 04/24/13 at 02:05:34
 
Garnold

Thought I would inject a couple of thoughts here. Last fall I went to the 2012 Decfest thinking I might like to upgrade from my 12 year old Zen to the SE34I.3. I was able to hear the Super Zen and Rachael back to back connected to the Decware 96 db HDT speakers.

To my surprise the Rachael did not play any louder to my ear than the Super Zen. The Rachael is a fine sounding amp but Steve Deckert has said to me before the Rachael is a tad warmer with a tad less resolution.

Bottom line I love the resolution and clarity of the Zen and ordered the Super Zen shortly after the Fest. The new Super Zen is a big upgrade from my original 12 year Zen.

I've had the Super Zen since January and probably 400 hours on it now with Klipsch RF-7 mains (101 db) and HSU Mid Bass Module in a larger room than you are looking at. I do not want for additional volume.

I'm just suggesting you don't completely rule out the Super Zen. With 98 to 101 db speakers you get a lot of volume. The Mid Bass Module really gives the low end solid weight that you dial in to your own liking. For your size room a single MBM will be more than enough.

Since my Super Zen is well broken I prefer it with no pre-amp. I have a CSP+ that can add some volume but the upper resolution suffers just a tad and I don't really need the added headroom.

To start I think a Super Zen, Zu Speakers and single Mid Bass Module are hard to beat for the money. Once you hear the dynamics of this type of system you will be surprised.
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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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garnold
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #13 - 05/01/13 at 21:49:11
 
Wow!  You guys have simultaneously given me a lot to think about AND made it easier to just jump in feet first.  ;D Thanks!

will:
Quote:
You could read over Torii threads for the big picture, but the touch of romance thread goes there some

I've been reading that thread off an on for a few days, now.  It's fascinating how everyone's perception of different tubes is unique.  It's like you said in a couple of your replies to me, it depends on so much else in the system -- source, pre, ICs, speakers, room, treatments, etc -- that it's nearly impossible to say that any one approach is "right" or "wrong" (well, within reason).

Quote:
Judging from your comments, I like your idea of the Rachael with Torii as a background option with the Rachel going to room two one day if need be.

Right now I'm leaning towards maybe getting some Omen Dirty Weekends (60-day return with free shipping, one-year 100% trade-in on any Zu product, pretty low-risk) and a Rachael as my speaker/amp combo for testing the waters.  The only real risk there is if I hate the Zu sound, but I think the DW is such a low risk that it's worth taking.  More on other decisions below...

marky:
Quote:
To make your choice easier

Yeah, thanks, buddy!  ::)  Seriously, I agree with everyone else in envying your system.  I really wish I had the knowledge, time, and money to explore different amp and speaker setups to see what the tradeoffs are.  Toying with the idea of getting a MiniWatt or a Yaqin just to give myself more than a single point of reference.  Definitely NOT in place of a Decware amp, just a comparison.

RJR:
Quote:
Decware gives you 30 days (may not be enough time).  Zu gives you 60 days and Tekton gives you 30 days.

I'd forgotten that Tekton gives you 30 days.  When it comes time to actually order something, I plan on timing it all so that the amp and speakers show up as close to each other as possible so I can maximize my "return window".

Quote:
Paralysis by analysis.  Just take a deep breath, make a decision and listen to the MUSIC.  Yes it will sound different than you were used to.  Yes it will take time for the components to bloom.  Yes you will have to adjust and keep an open mind about the new sound.  But at the end of the day, you will appreciate a very refined sound and you will appreciate your taste of music even more!

This (and Will's similar Quote:
After playing the research out a bit, we just have to start diving in and go from there
) is probably one of my biggest take-aways from asking, here.  "Just do it".  I'll never have the "perfect" system, so trying to get it on my first purchase is just ludicrous.  Hard for me to admit that...I'm an engineer, and we're perfectionists at heart.  :)

Dom:
Quote:
I was looking at the Maverick D2 for a DAC.  After getting some sound advice for alternative DAC's from fellow members...I would scrap the Maverick and look at the Schitt Bifrost at a comparable price point.

Interesting that you mention Schiit.  A couple weeks ago, as a way of getting my tube ya-ya's out, I ordered a Schiit Modi, a Bravo V2, and a Genalex Gold Lion 12AU7 as a headphone amp for work.  Wow, the Modi really surprised me!  I was a bit skeptical that an outboard DAC could make as much of a difference as it does.  So color me a Schiit believer...I'll definitely give some serious consideration to a Bifrost.

Also, as a side note, the Bravo V2 is a fun little amp.  Seriously susceptible to wifi interference, though -- I have to keep it at least two feet from my laptop to avoid a crackling right channel.  Not the best amp, I'm sure, but a good toe-in-the-water for tube noobs.

Quote:
I am a newbie as well when it comes to Decware.

Cool...we can compare maps as we explore the tube amp wilderness.

beowulf:
I like the idea of having several special-purpose (ish) components instead of one big amp and two big speakers.  Gives me the flexibility to swap newer/better/different components in and out and experiment.  I know that if I do that, though, I'll become a total addict.  Hmm...  ;)

DBC:
Quote:
To start I think a Super Zen, Zu Speakers and single Mid Bass Module are hard to beat for the money. Once you hear the dynamics of this type of system you will be surprised.

Aaauuugh!  More choices!  No, seriously, I appreciate the input.  That sounds like another good idea that I think would be nicely compatible with what beowulf was recommending to me.

A question for everyone concerning the MDM (I'm not having any luck tracking down the "adding body and weight" thread).  It looks like the audio signal goes through the MDM -- is there any degradation to what gets sent to the loudspeakers because of this?  I know I'm counting my chickens before they hatch, worrying about that at this point, but it's one of those things that would bother me not knowing.

Thanks again, everyone.  You've been exceedingly kind with sharing your knowledge and experience!  I'll try to be more punctual and shorter in my replies in future...  ::)
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marky
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Re: Help a newbie set up a system?
Reply #14 - 05/01/13 at 23:37:06
 
Well one thing, or two things for sure is that the efficiency of your speaker choice means volume wont be an issue whatever your amp choice, and you`ll be getting Jupitor caps as stock. Those Jupitors must be something else.
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