What's your current home audio system?

The place to sound off on all things related to audio, from sound cards to speakers.

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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:53 am

Captain Ned wrote:
cynan wrote:[So are you actually admitting that analog audio's days are numbered? :o That when higher sampling frequencies than 44.1 kHz become de facto, which you could argue is the direction things are heading (ie, 96 or 192 kHz - and even 384 kHz is beginning to crop up), then there will be no more (academic) argument for preferring analog over digital?

Not at all. Analog v. Digital was never an academic argument to begin with. I can't explain why, nor can I ground it in any rational system, but music played through my ancient turntable sounds more instantly "real" than 44.1/16 digital. I've currently got no way to get 24/192 files to the stereo so I've yet to have a basis for comparison.

In light of my advancing age, there's also the comforting ritual involved in playing vinyl. Gently remove it from the sleeve, apply 3 drops of fluid to the DiscWasher brush, clean the record, and gently drop the stylus. Copying music in my college years was a much more time-consuming process than today as it had to run in real time.



Yeah, I totally get that. Music is an emotional medium. Therefore, it makes sense that any sort of ritual (good word) that involves gently removing a prized album from its sleeve, wiping off the dust, delicately positioning the arm, etc, can substantially add to the overall experience. Added to this, the "nostalgic" sound of vinyl with its teeny tiny imperfections, no matter if few on the best kept records and maintained systems, and generally warmer, more lush, tone of vinyl - if not necessarily more accurate to the actual recording - that comes from physical transduction can go along way to enhance the experience (and I suppose, give it that "real" sound).

In my opinion, though, the single largest advantage that many vinyl albums have that modern mastered stuff may not is FULL DYNAMIC RANGE. Low bitrate, lossy formats used to be a problem, but this is getting less and less so with more and more venues adopting higher bitrates (ie, 320 kbps) and encoding algorithms getting better and better. However, modern popular music is still largely being produced to be loud (and not much else). Dynamic range can really add to the emotional expression of music and its a shame that this has largely (though there are many exceptions) fallen by the wayside.

That said, IMHO, its hard to beat a well-mastered low/no compression high sample rate/frequency digital track played back through a decent DAC for elements of music reproduction such as accuracy, clarity and separation.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:01 pm

Mine is simple but fun.

Receiver is a Harmon Kardon AVR-210
Speakers (there are only two!) are Cerwin Vega E712 Series II towers
Subwoofer is a custom refrigerator-sized beast with two Elemental Designs 13Ov.2 drivers powered by a Hafler DH-220 (and DH-110 preamp) ported to ~17 Hz...it goes low and doesn't bleed into music much since it's crossed over at 50 Hz. The CV towers don't need any help digging down for music but for movies they fall flat since they're ported at 40 Hz.

I used to run a full surround setup but I still find it far more enjoyable to have a great stereo soundstage with perfect voice-matching over a mixed-voice surround setup. I don't have the room for a surround setup of full towers and until I do I'll probably stick with the good old 2.1 format.

EDIT: A picture does more justice than my words in terms of subwoofer scale (it's almost exactly as tall as the 60" plasma on its stand):
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:40 pm

A few months ago, I heard Mike Shields present an equalizer. At some point, vinyl came up, and his succinct opinion was this: digital and analog both have inadequacies, but it's up to the listener to decide which inadequacies are harder to ignore. For me, I find it much harder to ignore the crackle and hiss of vinyl, so my personal preference is digital.

That sums up how I feel exactly. Neither digital nor analog is "inferior". But all mediums that we have so far have deficiences. I really think it comes down to which deficiency irritates you the least. For me, that's digital.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:43 pm

LukeCWM wrote:A few months ago, I heard Mike Shields present an equalizer. At some point, vinyl came up, and his succinct opinion was this: digital and analog both have inadequacies, but it's up to the listener to decide which inadequacies are harder to ignore. For me, I find it much harder to ignore the crackle and hiss of vinyl, so my personal preference is digital.

That sums up how I feel exactly. Neither digital nor analog is "inferior". But all mediums that we have so far have deficiences. I really think it comes down to which deficiency irritates you the least. For me, that's digital.


You want to get a hold of a record washer. The difference is not subtle.

Nearly all my records are pretty well silent. I used for years an old radio station turntable, with no arm, to clean my records. It had what looked like a half horse motor under it and a clutch. You need a good fluid designed for flooding records and I built a vacuum deal out of a record cleaning pad with a shop vac attached.

You can really clean em' like this and depending on your stylus you can avoid most of the wear too. I run a knife like stylus and it reaches down into the groove avoiding the wear caused by round styluses which is only at the top of the groove. The downside is anything at the bottom of the groove now becomes a problem. Washing and vacuuming, as I described, gets pretty well everything. You will if your equipment is good enough notice a strengthening of the mid range as well.

I'll throw in a couple more things. If you think you need an equalizer you have a serious problem as all they do is screw up your signal.

As well never, never, ever play a record without at least an hours rest. The forces the stylus puts into the vinyl are not trivial and if you do not let the record return to it's normal state you will permanently harm it.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:06 pm

My home audio system is my PC :P

Pretty simple really; just MediaMonkey for software, Xonar DG, and M-Audio BX5a speakers on some mopads. I can't afford an expensive setup, but for around $300 total this sounds pretty nice.

cynan wrote:However, modern popular music is still largely being produced to be loud (and not much else). Dynamic range can really add to the emotional expression of music and its a shame that this has largely (though there are many exceptions) fallen by the wayside.


Yep it's a shame and they really need to re-examine this loudness war. It was originally intended to make their songs stand out on the radio, but how many people (who still buy music) even listen to radio anymore? I don't know anyone around my age who does, and we all buy plenty of music.

IMO modern pop artists have more serious issues than the mastering though. No amount of dynamic range will make me like auto-tune. :P
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:21 pm

travbrad wrote:No amount of dynamic range will make me like auto-tune. :P


I agree in general, but.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:44 pm

My primary movie-watching room is my bedroom and it's not very big so I do not have anything fancy in it. Just a basic 5.1 setup consisting of Definitive Technology's Mythos series (they are not being manufactured anymore) with Velodyne's MiniVee sub, all connected to an inexpensive Pioneer 5.1 receiver (old model, not being manufactured anymore). Works fine for movies and general TV watching. I might upgrade it to something better later but for now there's no need for it. I don't listen to music on it - I only listen to music on my PC (it has Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 which still work fine, I don't even know how many years ago I have purchased it) or in our cars.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:03 pm

TV is a Samsung 65" LED DLP. It sits above an Onkyo TX-NR708 reciever. Speakers are a set of JBL SAT20's with a pair of dual 8" ported subs. I've replaced the stock plate amps in the subs with 300W BASH amps. The speakers are configured as a 7.2 setup with a pair of SAT 20's, end to end, handling the center channel.

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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:25 pm

I used to be more into audio stuff. Sadly, I don't have the time to just sit and listen like I used to, and my high-frequency (above 15kHz) hearing seems to be going as well; it sucks getting old. So I'm less picky than I used to be.

Family room has a nondescript Sony A/V receiver, Denon CD changer, and some Polk (I forget the model) speakers. Basement (where I tend to hang out...) has another nondescript Sony receiver, and some Scott speakers (which still sound surprisingly good) from when I was in college, roughly 3 decades ago.

The majority of my music listening these days occurs on the computer or via a Sansa Clip. Yes, Captain Ned, I can almost hear you cringing! :lol: I do still have some standards though... Sennheiser all the way for headphones (even their inexpensive ones like the PX-100-II sound pretty darned good, and better than many other headphones costing twice as much) I also use JACK as my audio stack when I am listening at the computer (the EQ plugins allow me to partially compensate for the frequency response deficiencies of my 2.1 computer speakers, and JACK is required for the MIDI sequencer stuff I've been playing around with).
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:42 pm

travbrad wrote:IMO modern pop artists have more serious issues than the mastering though. No amount of dynamic range will make me like auto-tune. :P


I completely agree that the loudness war need no longer exist. And that pop stars have other areas than mastering to grow in.

However, I think you're giving pitch correction a bad rap without cause. First, pitch correction doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be!) painfully obvious. Not every artist is going for the T-pain effect. Second, 99% of the stuff you hear on the radio is pitch corrected whether you know it or not, and this extends beyond pop stars and dance music. Even more natural acts like Adele and recent John Mayer use pitch correction. It's part of the business now. It's not about sounding processed, it's about, quite simply, not being pitchy.

Using pitch correction is a bit of an art in itself. When I first started using it, I obviously avoided making everything robotically flat. Yet I was getting a lot of warbling as it tried to straighten out vibrato that was perfectly fine since the note underneath the vibrato was on pitch. But I honed it a bit when I realized I could raise or drop the beginning or ending of a longer note, "slanting" the note so to speak. Often a note with vibrato would start on pitch and drift sharp, or start flat and drift into key. Applying a gradual shift to one end of the note puts the entire note in pitch, introduces no warbling on the vibrato whatsoever, and is completely transparent in sound since it is only gradual correction applied/unapplied slowly.

It used to be that the general public hardly paid attention to pitchy vocals and rhythm errors, but music has become dramatically more polished over the decades, partially due to increased number of takes in the studios and the ability to more easily and accurately splice together shorter and shorter takes. (Swapping out takes between syllables mid-word is all in a day's work. I've even seamlessly swapped takes mid-vowel before, when the two vowels were close enough in tone and level.) And music has become more polished partially due to better tools at our disposal, including but not limited to pitch correction. Now, the public is offended by gross rhythm errors and moderately pitchy vocals. We expect our musicians to be gods, even though few of them can get remotely close. I don't view this as a degradation, but a refinement. I view it as the upside of the evolution of an art form. And I am very glad that we have pitch correction. And in almost all of my music, I'm very glad that the engineers were skilled enough to use it so subtly it's undetectable, or if it wasn't, to have the singer sing a few more takes to get it closer. 8)
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:08 am

PenGun wrote:You want to get a hold of a record washer. The difference is not subtle.

Nearly all my records are pretty well silent. I used for years an old radio station turntable, with no arm, to clean my records. It had what looked like a half horse motor under it and a clutch. You need a good fluid designed for flooding records and I built a vacuum deal out of a record cleaning pad with a shop vac attached.

You can really clean em' like this and depending on your stylus you can avoid most of the wear too. I run a knife like stylus and it reaches down into the groove avoiding the wear caused by round styluses which is only at the top of the groove. The downside is anything at the bottom of the groove now becomes a problem. Washing and vacuuming, as I described, gets pretty well everything. You will if your equipment is good enough notice a strengthening of the mid range as well.

I'll throw in a couple more things. If you think you need an equalizer you have a serious problem as all they do is screw up your signal.

As well never, never, ever play a record without at least an hours rest. The forces the stylus puts into the vinyl are not trivial and if you do not let the record return to it's normal state you will permanently harm it.


PenGun,

Respectfully, I'd like to counter a few of your points. My issues with vinyl are not with abused records on dirt-cheap playback equipment. I've listened in dealer's showrooms. I've listened in audiophile's homes. I know a fellow who has a $30,000 turntable (not that I think they need to be even remotely that expensive), and he takes pride in hosting listening parties monthly. He finds fantastic records, and often the ones he plays are the very first time each has been played. Maintenance of the record is not an issue.

However, I am extremely sensitive to crackles and pops. I've spent far too much time editing audio not to be. To me, a pop is caused by rack gear being powered on mid vocal take, and then the take needs to be done. Or bad fades during the editing, in which case the editing needs to be more carefully done. Or any number of things. I had an internship at a mastering studio, and part of my job was to perform quality control to the master copy before it went out to the replicators to listen for any crackles or pops. And sometimes I found them, and we had to take things back into mastering to fix. And I have practice fixing those too. There are some really cool things you can do with a spectrasonic editor. (And a shame they cost so much!) I am extremely sensitive to crackles and pops. It doesn't mean you are, but I am. To me, this is worse than the deficiencies of digital music, especially file-uncompressed dynamic digital music with no DSP introduced by the media player or sample rate conversion introduced by the OS, and played through a high quality, low-jitter DAC. Of course a 128 kbps mp3 stream of some hyper-compressed, distorted master of a pop star played from a $30 mp3 player sounds bad, especially when played over a high end system that can clearly show you those deficiencies. But that's not a fair comparison, and that's not the point of my opinion.

I respect that you prefer vinyl. And I'd like to purchase a decent turntable of my own next time I have some spare cash. I opted for a phono pre in the preamp I built last winter for a reason. Vinyl is fun, and it is engaging in a nostalgic way that digital music isn't. Yet for a sound that closer aligns with my preferences, I know high quality digital is for me.

As for an equalizer, just remember that it is a tool. A very valuable, very handy tool. Tone controls were often included on integrated amplifiers because they were needed for how much one record could differ in frequency response from another. (It used to be enormously difficult to anticipate the frequency response changes incurred during the cutting of a vinyl original with a lathe.) Tone controls were a tool in the consumer's toolbox to correct for wildly varying sonic signatures between records.

In present day, the consumer shouldn't need much if any EQ. EQ could be used to mask speaker or system deficiencies, but those deficiencies really should be handled with room treatment and/or different speakers. (Not that I expect a consumer to go this far.) Before the music gets in the hands of the consumer, however, EQ is invaluable. Extremely aggressive cuts and boosts are typical during recording in the studio. Elements are cut and boosted during mixing to diminish offending frequencies or to bring out the important frequencies, or to give each instrument sonic "space" by EQing instruments to not overlap as much. It works and it is effective. In fact, I'd say it's mandatory for a good mix, especially a good complex mix. EQ is also used to preserve the impactfulness of the low frequencies by maintaining a lack of it in instruments that don't deserve to fill that part of the spectrum. And of course in mastering, EQ is used for subtle tonal shift of the entire song, and to make up for deficiencies in the mix caused by deficiencies in the mixing engineer's speakers and room.

The equalizer is a valuable tool, and is used for far more than pumping up the bass to noise-pollution levels in your 2002 Grand Am. And I would sorely miss not being able to use an equalizer myself.

I feel this is all off-topic from what gear we own at home, but this is exactly the type of discussion I want to have, not just a list of items that used to be sold. Let's keep a healthy discussion going. I'm really enjoying tossing ideas back and forth with you guys. =]
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:23 am

The audio events you describe as crackles and pops seem to have little to do with record surface noise. Power on events should never occur during recording.

Crackles and pops on a record are caused by crap in the groove. Very rarely actual record damage can produce these noises too but it's pretty well all crap in the groove. Get it out and it goes away.

An equalizer simply means you need to spend quite a bit more, to get rid of it.

I have spent fair amounts of time listening and adjusting various things and subtle changes in, say stylus angle, are not going to be usefully audible through an equalizer.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:27 am

gigafinger wrote:
CityEater wrote:But the crown in my setup for me is a nice set of Stax Headphones and Amp. Ill probably never sell those.

Those look interesting. How do they sound?


Best set of cans I've used, got to A-B them with some AKG 701s and an X-Can and liked them more. If you're into absolute bass you may need to go with a more expensive set but in this price range for a Headphone + Amp combo they're tough to beat. Easy for long listening periods and very precise. I got the Stax 3050 combo and I don't think I'll buy another dynamic setup for home. I have a few walking around pairs I switch between though but at home in front of the computer I'm pretty much set, I would love a set of AKG 701s though with the leather band. They're so often on special you just can't beat them for the price but theres something special about the Stax Electrostatics.
Its even easy to attach my track ir because the headphones have a handy plastic headband I can attach it to.
If I was into splurging some cash around though I would look at some of the electrostatic tube amps like the Blue Hawaii. Looks awesome and would be a good talking piece ( it probably sounds great to! ) but I'm not looking to spend 5k on a headphone amp anytime in the next decade.

If you can get a chance to listen to some stax headphones they're totally worth it.

I use J-River as my media player is there anyone else on this site who does? Sounds great (you can set it fairly easily to be bit transparent) and compared to foobar and competitors I found it worth the $25. Nice piece of software and yes the different audio players sound different as insane as it would appear.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 6:15 am

Nice thread! Have a couple of setups:

Stereo:
Usher Be-718 bookshelves with Usher RWS-729 stands
McCormack DNA-125 Power Amp
McCormack TLC-1 Deluxe Passive Preamp
Ayon CD-1s CD Player on Symposium Labs Rollerblocks
Clearaudio Concept Turntable with Concept MC cartridge
Grundig CF5500-2 Cassette Deck
McCormack (Mod Squad) Phono Drive Deluxe
Einstein Audio Speaker cables and interconnects
MSI Wind netbook with m2tech hiface usb->spdif converter for playing FLACs and other lossless media.

HT:
Paradigm CT70 HTIB
Onkyo TX-SR577 Receiver
An ancient Philips 42PFL9703 LCD
Sony PS3
mini itx HTPC in an antec isk310 enclosure

There's a vast difference between the stereo and ht setup. The latter sounds like a joke compared to the former for music but does a strictly ok job for movies.

I also have a Marantz PM5004, Jamo E700, Asus Xonar STX for my main desktop PC for gaming. Even that sounds much better than the HTIB for music.

The main stereo sounds wonderful with a warm, full tone and excellent dynamics for a bookshelf system. The recently added Clearaudio TT has taken it to a different level altogether.

Its hard to get good stereo components where I live for sane prices. So its taken me quite a while to get the system to the level it is now.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:11 am

CityEater wrote:If you can get a chance to listen to some stax headphones they're totally worth it.

The only pair of high-end phones I've had any extensive listening with are my friend's Grado RS1i sourced by a McIntosh MA2275 tube amp. They were precise and smooth, but not that comfortable after longer listening sessions. I'd love to audition more, but I would end up spending even more money I don't have :lol:

In regards to loudness, the independent labels and self-mastered albums seem to be moving away from the trend. I've been buying a lot of music in FLAC format from Bandcamp lately and most of it sounds very good. I can't remember the last album I've bought from a major label, but it appears that they are still fighting the Loudness War. So maybe the music's genre, popularity, and label has a bigger impact on whether it's loud or not?
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:33 am

gigafinger wrote:The only pair of high-end phones I've had any extensive listening with are my friend's Grado RS1i sourced by a McIntosh MA2275 tube amp. They were precise and smooth, but not that comfortable after longer listening sessions. I'd love to audition more, but I would end up spending even more money I don't have :lol:


That sounds like a pretty good set. Are the RS1s open ear? Makes a difference after a long period of listening. I love those McIntosh amps, they look great. Never gotten to see one though.

reignofchaos wrote:Stereo:
Usher Be-718 bookshelves with Usher RWS-729 stands
McCormack DNA-125 Power Amp
McCormack TLC-1 Deluxe Passive Preamp
Ayon CD-1s CD Player on Symposium Labs Rollerblocks
Clearaudio Concept Turntable with Concept MC cartridge
Grundig CF5500-2 Cassette Deck
McCormack (Mod Squad) Phono Drive Deluxe
Einstein Audio Speaker cables and interconnects
MSI Wind netbook with m2tech hiface usb->spdif converter for playing FLACs and other lossless media.


I love the Ushers. I've been eyeing a set of X-718s online, the whole Usher range is great but the private dancers have a beautiful finish on them in person.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:13 pm

CityEater wrote:That sounds like a pretty good set. Are the RS1s open ear? Makes a difference after a long period of listening. I love those McIntosh amps, they look great. Never gotten to see one though.

Yes, they are open. The ear cup is kind of small and digs into the ear lobe. The amp is very attractive in person. It's classy with the glass front, blue VU meters, and solid feeling controls. It also weighs something like 75 pounds.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 12:36 pm

mine's pretty simple.

xonar essence stx (line out) -> passive mixer -> O2 headphone amp -> AKG K240 sextett
behringer UCA222 (line out) ->

i have two sound cards because i do a lot of game footage recording, and i want a way to separate game audio, microphone, and teamspeak into different audio streams. i'll probably replace the stx at some point with the ODAC, since i don't use any of the extra features on the STX, and that the STX's line out is significantly louder than the UCA222.

having ventured into the whole analog/digital/tube/solidstate argument before, and experimenting with various different gear, i can pretty definitely say that there's really no debate: digital media is better.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:12 pm

B&K Reference 10 pre-amp/tuner (circa 1999)
NHT SA-2 subwoofer amp/crossover (circa 1999)
Rotel RB-981 amplifier (circa 1998)
Home-built acoustic-reflex subwoofer box, Kicker Competition C10a driver (built 1996)
NHT Classic Three front speakers (purchased 2013)

I have no desire for center or surround speakers. Next upgrade will be a pair of sand-fillable stands for the Classic Threes.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:20 pm

nerdrage wrote:B&K Reference 10 pre-amp/tuner (circa 1999)
NHT SA-2 subwoofer amp/crossover (circa 1999)
Rotel RB-981 amplifier (circa 1998)
Home-built acoustic-reflex subwoofer box, Kicker Competition C10a driver (built 1996)
NHT Classic Three front speakers (purchased 2013)

I have no desire for center or surround speakers. Next upgrade will be a pair of sand-fillable stands for the Classic Threes.


I got good results with steel straps, turnbuckles and 150lb fir rounds. Everything is slightly more defined with the speakers nailed down.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:28 pm

52" LCD TV (something old, sadly)
Axiom M60, VP150, QS8
Hsu ULS-15
Denon AVR-3312ci
Panasonic BDT-210

Waitin' for dual-core Haswell desktop chips to build a HTPC...

Debated adding a 5-channel external amp, but honestly, I really don't need the extra power. The Emotiva UPA-500 would be downgrade ratings-wise (but probably an upgrade in terms of real, actual power) and the XPA-5 is sufficiently spendy that I'm holding off on it.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:52 pm

continuum wrote:Debated adding a 5-channel external amp, but honestly, I really don't need the extra power. The Emotiva UPA-500 would be downgrade ratings-wise (but probably an upgrade in terms of real, actual power) and the XPA-5 is sufficiently spendy that I'm holding off on it.


I was very seriously considering Emotiva products a while back. From what I gathered, their cheapest two channel amp was an unbeatable deal. Good sound for serious value. But then they started phasing out their cheaper products for dramatically more expensive products that, while better, didn't justify the increase in price. I wouldn't describe them as a steal anymore. But that doesn't mean they aren't worth considering.

Also, there was a lot of buzz from audio heavy-weights regarding their DAC before it was phased out. I haven't kept up, but I assume it was phased out for a new DAC with a couple more features and a higher price tag.

My words aren't as valuable as those from someone with firsthand experience, but the summary of someone who has spent an unhealthy amount of time reading about these things is probably better than nothing. :D
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:30 pm

i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:39 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Blu-ray/DVD/DVD-A/SACD/CD: Oppo BDP-103

Do you find the Oppo to be worth having over just ripping Blu-Ray, CDs, etc. to the HTPC? I've been considering buying one.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:51 pm

gigafinger wrote:Do you find the Oppo to be worth having over just ripping Blu-Ray, CDs, etc. to the HTPC? I've been considering buying one.


I have a friend that is very happy with his Oppo. The DAC inside is quite good, although a bit bass-heavy and a bit hot. (Which makes people lean even more towards it in comparisons.) The biggest trouble with it is that it doesn't have digital input, so you can't use its DAC with another source.

I am absolutely in favor of the convenience and modern usage of an HTPC. However, I tend to have issues with my setup (admittedly not high-end). Ripped movies never tend to look quite as good as the original. Things like black gradients, color gradients low-light detail, blockiness, etc. Even high quality rips with large files seem a bit suspect compared to the actual discs. Also, HTPC brings in issues with occasional stutters (for me, anyway), some related to DPC-latency, some not. Many TVs (especially off-brand TVs) have more difficulty with getting a computer source to look appropriately on screen. Also, if my OS has a fresh rate of 60 Hz and movies are 24 Hz, doesn't that guarantee 3:2 pull-down, which introduces extra judder? Whereas I believe a Blu-ray player plugged straight into a TV will have a native refresh rate of 24 Hz bypassing the need for 3:2 pull-down?

I'm by no means an expert with HTPC's. But these are the things I struggle with. Is there anyone here who has ironed out all these kinks that is willing to share?
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:27 pm

LukeCWM wrote:I have a friend that is very happy with his Oppo. The DAC inside is quite good, although a bit bass-heavy and a bit hot. (Which makes people lean even more towards it in comparisons.) The biggest trouble with it is that it doesn't have digital input, so you can't use its DAC with another source.

I am absolutely in favor of the convenience and modern usage of an HTPC. However, I tend to have issues with my setup (admittedly not high-end). Ripped movies never tend to look quite as good as the original. Things like black gradients, color gradients low-light detail, blockiness, etc. Even high quality rips with large files seem a bit suspect compared to the actual discs. Also, HTPC brings in issues with occasional stutters (for me, anyway), some related to DPC-latency, some not. Many TVs (especially off-brand TVs) have more difficulty with getting a computer source to look appropriately on screen. Also, if my OS has a fresh rate of 60 Hz and movies are 24 Hz, doesn't that guarantee 3:2 pull-down, which introduces extra judder? Whereas I believe a Blu-ray player plugged straight into a TV will have a native refresh rate of 24 Hz bypassing the need for 3:2 pull-down?

I'm by no means an expert with HTPC's. But these are the things I struggle with. Is there anyone here who has ironed out all these kinks that is willing to share?


I am using XBMC on my HTPC. The system is a Sandy Bridge Celeron G530 with 4GB of RAM. I use HDMI from the HTPC to my receiver and then from the receiver to the TV. You should be able to match the TV's refresh rate in the display settings as well as in XBMC. I rip my Blu-Rays with MakeMKV and re-encode with HandBrake to make the file size smaller (still 1080p). I can say that in most cases, I've never noticed much difference between the source disc and shrunk MKV. The only time the video stutters is when there is a pending Windows Update. Rebooting and applying the updates brings me right back to smooth playback.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:40 pm

This is actually my #2.5 system. My first was a pioneer receiver with pioneer floorstanders and energy surrounds. My second system was the Yamaha receiver with the B&W speakers and a B&W sub. My 2.5 system changed into the Denon and added the back surrounds.

Image
Samsung 7070 40"
Panasonic AE4000
Stewart Firehawk 96" with custom blackdrop length.

Electronics:
Denon 4308A Reciver (Center, side and back surrounds)
Rotel RB-1080 (2 channel amp for the fronts)
2 x SubAmp-1 (dual 300w monoblocks, can take 2 subs each if I want to build further into 4 subs)
Oppo BDP-93 Bluray

Speakers (Bowers & Wilkins)
Fronts:703
Center: HTM7
Side Surrounds: DS7
Back Surrounds: 686
Subwoofers: 2 x XTZ W12-18P (Dual passive 12" subs, not B&W because dual B&W's are freaking expensive and probably unnecessary)

Upgrade Path
I've been thinking lately of getting myself a few upgrades. Changing receiver into a Denon 4520 for it's much better Audyssey version and dual sub ability, and fronts and center for a B&W 804Di and HTM4. Then later on I might upgrade the projector into one that supports 3D on my Stewart Firehawk, which probably means shutter glasses unfortunately.

Bonus system - computer system
Yamaha RX-V2600 Reciever, B&W 685 Fronts, Energy Center and surrounds for a very nice 5.1 surround gaming experience on my PC.

This photo is from when i was testing out placement for absorbing panels, etc, now they are clothed properly.
Image
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:59 pm

LukeCWM wrote: If my OS has a fresh rate of 60 Hz and movies are 24 Hz, doesn't that guarantee 3:2 pull-down, which introduces extra judder? Whereas I believe a Blu-ray player plugged straight into a TV will have a native refresh rate of 24 Hz bypassing the need for 3:2 pull-down?
The Radeon HD7770 does okay with 24 Hz refresh. PowerDVD is set to automatically switch to 24 Hz if that's what's on the Blu-ray (or at least it was the last time that I messed with it). The PlayStation 3 or the BDP-103 also switch to 24 Hz as needed. The TV has 24p True Cinema technology, so there's no need for the nasty 3:2 pulldown telecine judder.

As near as I can tell, the Oppo just works. Like LukeCWM, I find that ripped movies don't look as good as playing the Blu-ray disc, so this is how I watch movies. I picked the Oppo over other Blu-ray players because it also plays DVD-Audio.
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:51 pm

Just ordered my upgrades this week, if I'm lucky I might get them Wednesday, otherwise, they come to me next week after my trip to the Mediterranean.
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Re: What's your current home audio system?

Postposted on Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:12 pm

I've got a pretty simple 2.0 system that does my PC audio, music and movie watching.

Asus Xonar DX --> Cambridge Audio A1 Amp --> Eltax Monitor III speakers sitting on a shelf above my monitor. Fairly cheap as amp/speaker setups go, and the A1 only goes to 25w, but it's more than enough for me :). Also got an iPod dock plugged into the Amp for when my PC is in bits or otherwise occupied.
i5-2500k @ 4.5ghz | ASUS P8Z68-V | nVidia GTX780 | 32gb DDR3| 2x SSDs 2x HDD | Antec Solo II | Dell U2713HM
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