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Thread: Starter amp and DAC recommendations for a young music lover

  1. #11
    Join Date: Mar 2013

    Location: nottingham

    Posts: 265
    I'm nigel.

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    A SMSL Sanscrit available from Amazon for less than 100 pounds should be on your shortlist.
    I have one and for the money it is a superb listen, besting the on-board converter in my Roksan CDP.

    It has optical, coax and usb inputs and with its all metal construction really looks the part....check out the many reviews.

    NIGE.

  2. #12
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 43,026
    I'm Grant.

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    Ive an smsl dac headphone amp too and has rca out at back for a big system too. M6 minidac and it's very good too A bit dearer than the samscrit tho. Make good gear smsl
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
    .... ..... ...... ...... ................... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
    OPPO BDP-103D DARBEE - JBE SERIES 3/M55E/EMOTIVA XPS1 - TWIN PRO MONOBLOCK AMPLIFIERS - XIANG SHENG DAC\PRE\HEADPHONE AMP - TWIN AVANTREE OASIS CLASS 1 BLUETOOTHS - AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-MSR7 & OPPO PM-3 PLANAR HEADPHONES - WIN10 JRIVER23, DEEZER HiFi - ECHO DOT - SMSL M6 MINIDAC - RPI/AUDIOPHONICS - FULL RANGE TWIN TELEFUNKEN/Q ACOUSTIC BT3/CANTON SUB - P.INSPIRED MAINS REGENERATED.

  3. #13
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

    Posts: 2,830
    I'm Neil.

    Default Starter amp and DAC recommendations for a young music lover

    ...let me have a think.
    Mana Acoustics Racks / Bright Star IsoNodes Decoupling >> Custom Silent Media Server >> Halide Bridge USB (with AQVOX USB power) >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  4. #14
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: Kuala Lumpur

    Posts: 113
    I'm Abe.

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    Rega Brio R or NAD316BEE
    +
    Beresford Caiman II/SEG DAC
    -abe-

  5. #15
    Join Date: Oct 2017

    Location: Ontario, Canada

    Posts: 451
    I'm Svend.

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    Thanks Gents! Some great suggestions here. Lots of food for thought and research to do. Fun stuff!

    The Rega amps are high on my short list, mostly for their sound (per the reviews at least), but also their straightforward build quality. I just like the company's philosophy as to how they design and build their stuff. As for the Brio R -- that's the previous model to the 2017 version, correct? Knowing that it will be driving older KEF unported stand speakers, do you think the 50wpc will have the steam to handle these?

    I haven't ruled out a Class D amp yet, so thanks Geoff -- good suggestion. Amazon Canada has it for C$540 - still very reasonable. Bluetooth would certainly be handy to play from a smartphone just for casual listening, which might be perfect for a young person. As mentioned, I've heard a Class D many years ago, and was impressed. Over time it sounded a bit sterile and too detailed, almost too perfect, but that was 10 years ago. I'm sure the technology has advanced considerably since then. Need to check this out a bit more....

    Abe -- good tip on the NAD unit. I've seen a few of those pop up in our local online audio mart for very reasonable prices. I will check it out...

    Stanley -- is Beresford sold in North America? Do you have any dealers over here? I'm always happy to support European and N. American manufacturers, and almost always buy that way even if it costs more. After-sales support is the thing, and I often find that the item is less expensive in the long run for that very reason.

    Ditto supporting bricks and mortar retailers. In this case, auditioning and buying audio gear, if I can I will almost certainly buy from a local store. In this area we are blessed with some excellent shops. Given the crappy weather here these days, I might just venture into the city tomorrow and drop in on a couple for some chats and listening.

    Cheers,
    Svend

  6. #16
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: Notts

    Posts: 1,242
    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Svend N View Post
    Thanks Gents! Some great suggestions here. Lots of food for thought and research to do. Fun stuff!

    The Rega amps are high on my short list, mostly for their sound (per the reviews at least), but also their straightforward build quality. I just like the company's philosophy as to how they design and build their stuff. As for the Brio R -- that's the previous model to the 2017 version, correct? Knowing that it will be driving older KEF unported stand speakers, do you think the 50wpc will have the steam to handle these?

    I haven't ruled out a Class D amp yet, so thanks Geoff -- good suggestion. Amazon Canada has it for C$540 - still very reasonable. Bluetooth would certainly be handy to play from a smartphone just for casual listening, which might be perfect for a young person. As mentioned, I've heard a Class D many years ago, and was impressed. Over time it sounded a bit sterile and too detailed, almost too perfect, but that was 10 years ago. I'm sure the technology has advanced considerably since then. Need to check this out a bit more....

    Abe -- good tip on the NAD unit. I've seen a few of those pop up in our local online audio mart for very reasonable prices. I will check it out...

    Stanley -- is Beresford sold in North America? Do you have any dealers over here? I'm always happy to support European and N. American manufacturers, and almost always buy that way even if it costs more. After-sales support is the thing, and I often find that the item is less expensive in the long run for that very reason.

    Ditto supporting bricks and mortar retailers. In this case, auditioning and buying audio gear, if I can I will almost certainly buy from a local store. In this area we are blessed with some excellent shops. Given the crappy weather here these days, I might just venture into the city tomorrow and drop in on a couple for some chats and listening.

    Cheers,
    Svend
    Svend,

    my reason for suggesting the ddA 120 is that is has all the qualities you mentioned: speed, energy, attack. It is very detailed without sounding harsh. I am using mine in the living room as the heart of a multimedia system. I was playing Fleetwood Mac's Live in Boston DVD recently and was really taken back by the impact and slam of drums through the amp (played through the tv optical out feed from the dvd). Aside from sound quality, it is really well made and very compact. I am sure that there is a dealer in Ontario where you could have one demo'd. I am hoping to be i the USA soon and if Amazon still has stocks will try and pick up a second unit.

    BTW, this is a PWM device. To quote Nuforce: its PWM power amplifier stage is modulated directly by the incoming signal, and the digital-to-analog conversion takes place at the speaker outputs. In effect, the PWM power amplifier stage operates as a power DAC.

    Geoff

  7. #17
    Join Date: Mar 2014

    Location: KY - Scotland

    Posts: 2,984
    I'm Mike.

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    If you need an iOS DAC I've been trying to sell my NuForce DAC/Headphone/Pre amp that is iPhone/iPad/iPod only. Can be used as a digital pre amp, DAC or headphone amp. Has built in volume control.

    Would work great with a set of active speakers.

    http://theartofsound.net/forum/showthread.php?t=48072

    Gets great reviews and was very good plugged into my TQ Claymore Amp as PMC 21 speakers.

    Pair it with a set of Q Acoustics active speakers for under 200 and your sorted.

    Edit: just noticed you're in Canada so not practical to buy my NuForce, but definitely worth looking out for one locally.

  8. #18
    Join Date: Feb 2011

    Location: glasgow

    Posts: 2,180
    I'm tony.

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    Temple audio build some lovely sounding digital amps.

    I have a bantum and four of their mono blocks.

    They are a lovely sounding amp in the midrange-work really well with all manner of speakers.

    They dont have a problem driving 57s so can handle difficult loads no problem.

    I only bettered theyre performance with Colin Wonfor designed amps!!

    Add a rega phono stage and tisbury audio pre and your daughter is sorted.

  9. #19
    Join Date: Oct 2017

    Location: Ontario, Canada

    Posts: 451
    I'm Svend.

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    Tony - Wow! that new Temple Bantam One looks fantastic. The walnut face plate -- very nice! If it sounds as good as it looks, then it could be a winner. No pricing for 2018 on this unit, but no rush. I'll check back in a while. Looking at prices for the rest of their line, I'd expect this one to be very reasonable. Thanks for pointing me there.

    Geoff -- yup, you've nailed it: "...speed, energy, attack....very detailed without sounding harsh....". Pretty much sums up what she would like in a system. I'll take a close look at that unit. Seems like it would suit very well.

    I'm sure hoping the old KEFs are up to the task. I haven't heard them in many years so can't really recall what they sound like. I'll have Gramps bring them over at their next visit and we can give 'em a run on our system.

    Guys, thanks very much for all the replies. Much appreciated. You've opened up a few great options here, most I hadn't even heard of or considered. The world of DACs and digital sources is all new to me, so I'm learning a lot. This is pertinent to my own systems too, as I'll be setting up a second rig in our basement at some point in the next few months, and intend to have a good DAC running from an old laptop. So I'll be shopping for two DACs, as it happens. I'll post back with what I end up with.

    All the best,
    Svend

  10. #20
    Join Date: Nov 2011

    Location: Wakefield west yorkshire

    Posts: 1,243
    I'm James.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Svend N View Post
    I am starting to hunt around for some components to set up my eldest daughter with her first audio system for her upcoming move into an apartment in the city. She'll be graduating from university this year and is starting a job downtown after the summer. She loves music, values good sound quality, loves vinyl for its sound and not because it's trendy. Musical tastes range from alternative, acoustical, folk-influenced alternative, jazz, and a little classical. No rock, metal, or hip-hop. Doesn't care for overly heavy bass, but likes accurate, crisp, dynamic sound that highlight vocals, acoustic guitars, wind and brass instruments. Transparency and detail would rule here. Full midrange, lots of quickness and jump.

    So far I have acquired an original Rega Planar 2 turntable which I will upgrade with a few sensible mods (nothing over the top...mostly motor and deck isolation-focused). Arm and cartridge undetermined, but they will be good quality....something like an RB300/2M Bronze, or equivalent.

    Digital source will be a Macbook, most likely running Spotify and iTunes.

    Her Grandpa is giving her a pair of his old KEF stand-mounted speakers; model unknown, circa 1980's vintage. They are two-way, unported, so will likely need good oomph from whatever amp I end up getting. He ran them with a Quad 306 and I don't think it enough gas in the tank for those.


    So what I'd like some opinion on from the group here is the amp and DAC. Budget about C$1000 (600 GBP) for both.

    Re. the amp -- this could be compact separates or an integrated, new or second hand (prefer the latter for value for money). We'd probably need 75 to 100 watts to really drive the KEFs, but I could be wrong. I see that some of the new integrated amps have built-in DACs. My concern here is redundancy of the on-board DAC after a few short years, so instinct says to go for a high quality traditional amp and separate DAC that can be upgraded when needed.

    Older integrated models that I'm considering are the Rega Mira, one of the more powerful NAD integrated units, or something from Arcam or Cambridge. I love the Sugden sound, but I don't think they made anything much over 50 wpc(?). For separates, some of the older Bryston combos can be had here for very reasonable prices, being a local company, but some of their early stuff had a very grainy sound. I'm also not averse to Japanese units if simply designed, well made and good sounding -- most of them have so many superfluous bells and whistles that I'd be turned off by....and they tend to be rather large.

    I haven't heard most of these, and definitely not recently, so opinions most welcome. If new, then the field is wide open, but I'm doubtful I'd find anything suitably powerful within the budget. How about Class D? I know nothing about this - can these little amps drive a larger unported speaker like the KEF?

    As for the DAC, I'm leaning toward one of the Schiit units as they are good value, preferably one that can be upgraded (if it makes sense to do so). On the budget end perhaps one of the Dragonfly models would do the job.

    So, advice welcomed and gratefully accepted. Hopefully I'm on the right track with my amp leanings. Looking forward to hearing some recommendations.

    Kind regards,
    Svend
    Older arcam. Stuff, ZZZzzzzzzz , just me of course
    cambridge audio azur 651w power amp, novafidelity x40 music server/pre/dac, tannoy dc4t]
    , van damme blue series interconnects, van damme studio blue 4mm speaker cable, klotz mc 5000 ,klotz silver hybrid, thanks Brian, fisual hollywood optical cable,, pioneer bdp170, akg k 550

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