Just Purchased New Speakers, Need Amp & Source Advice - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 07-14-2007, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Yesterday, I picked up a pair of B&W 686s. Right now, I am home for the summer and have them hooked up to my parents receiver. However, I'll be going back to college next month and do not own an amp or receiver that can power them. To begin with, I'll probably just use them in my bedroom.

What I'm thinking of doing is buying a big hard drive, ripping my CDs to a lossless format, and using the computer as the source. I've read a little about the Trends Micro TA 10.1 and the Sonic Super T. Do you think one of these, or something similar would work well for what I want to do?

Also, how should I go about connecting my computer to the amp in order to get the best quality? Using output of my sound card, buying a squeezebox 3, or another method?

I appreciate and advice you can offer me.
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post #2 of 20 Old 07-14-2007, 09:46 AM
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Depends on how far your PC/monitor will be away from the sound system. The Squeezebox route is real easy, I own two myself. Works with FLAC or Itunes (which is nice if you also have an Ipod.) You can hide the PC (w/ it's HD noise) and control the playlist through the SB's display, located in the audio rack. Plus you can add a HQ DAC to it for better sound quality.

But if the stereo receiver were right next to your PC/monitor, maybe an external soundcard would be better. You could use the PC monitor display directly to control the playlist. The Squeezebox Slimserver program can get frustrating at times.

I've read Rotel sounds good with B&W, but no personal experience there.
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post #3 of 20 Old 07-15-2007, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I plan on having the speakers next to my computer, and I will almost always be on the computer while listening to them.
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post #4 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 04:06 AM
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On top of the forums here (seems the subject is spread out among a few), here's some other sites with info on PC audio:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/forumdisplay.php?f=7

http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?board=46

http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/bbs.html
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post #5 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 08:57 AM
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All the above is good but you need something that will put it together for you. Go to www.highcriteria.com and start off with the PRIMIER ON PC AUDIO. (You will see it on the left side.) From there you can go to the other Primiers.
Richard
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post #6 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 09:48 AM
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I have a squeezebox 3 sitting right next to my computer. While I could get reasonable quality using the PC as the transport, the squeezebox is much more flexible.
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post #7 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I suppose when it comes to connecting my computer, I could experiment with a few different connections and see what sounds best. My bigger concern is which amp to get. This is my first stereo setup, so I'm not too sure what I should be looking at as far as amps go.
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post #8 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 10:40 AM
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Amp is a matter of budget and space. For a lower budget, it is hard to beat the HK-3840 refurbs for $200ish. As you move up, the Rotel RC/RB1070 separates are great for close to $1k...
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post #9 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 10:45 AM
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Rather than slingbox I would suggest to you a DAC that has a USB connection. There are a few out on the market. Bel Canto just brought out one the DAC 3 which is supposed to be top notch. This will give you a flexible input in case you want to add a CD transport or some other device later. Plus, the Bel Canto has a variable output option so there would be no-need for a integrated amp/ receiver or pre-amp.

Amp wise, what type of budget do you have? Rotel makes good products that sound good with the B&W product line that wont cost you an arm and a leg.

As far as PC noise, the majority of this is caused by noisy fans in your computer that can be resolved by replacing the fans / power supply with lower noise products. Nexus and Zalman both make very lose noise fans as does Corsair for low noise power supplies. The only noise I have from my HTPC is when the hard drives are swapping, IE disk hashing, this does not happen during DVD or Music playback but only when I am performing heavy disk access, IE on boot or compression of WAV to FLAC.
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post #10 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amnizu View Post

Rather than slingbox I would suggest to you a DAC that has a USB connection.

Squeezebox and Slingbox are very different things. The squeezebox is a transport + DAC, the slingbox is more of a wireless extender for your soundcard in this scenario. The squeezebox is a fairly solid player for the price, and would sound better than most soundcards available. While there are several nice options for external DACs, USB quality varies significantly, and you can always add an external DAC to the squeezebox (I added a Musical Fidelity X-DACv8 after a couple of years living with the squeezebox internal DACs). To get into real quality USB DACs, you need to look much higher in the budget range, the Benchmark DAC-1 USB is probably the best option at $1200, the Bel Canto integrated with USB DAC is nice as well, but $2K. Of course that $2K is pretty cheap when you consider the USB is only a couple hundred dollar option on a quality integrated amp.
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post #11 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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My budget for an amp is on the lower end. I don't mind spending between $200 and $300 on one. I'm going to look into that HK-3480.

The reason I was asking about the Trends TA-10.1 is because it is fairly cheap and got some pretty good reviews in this amp shootout: http://www.stereomojo.com/SHOOTOUT2007INTEGRATEDS.htm
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post #12 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by szap View Post

My budget for an amp is on the lower end. I don't mind spending between $200 and $300 on one. I'm going to look into that HK-3480.

The reason I was asking about the Trends TA-10.1 is because it is fairly cheap and got some pretty good reviews in this amp shootout: http://www.stereomojo.com/SHOOTOUT2007INTEGRATEDS.htm


If you look at the specs on your speakers, they dip to 5.1 ohms, and are not the easiest load to drive. While B&W recommeds 25W+ to drive them, the reality is watts matter less than current. The HK is 120W but also has a reasonable amount of current, I drove era Design 4s with one for a brief period and was suprised how well the HK handled them. I have heard nothing buy good things about the Trends and Sonic class T stuff, but they really need an easy speaker to drive.
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post #13 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iostream View Post

If you look at the specs on your speakers, they dip to 5.1 ohms, and are not the easiest load to drive. While B&W recommeds 25W+ to drive them, the reality is watts matter less than current. The HK is 120W but also has a reasonable amount of current, I drove era Design 4s with one for a brief period and was suprised how well the HK handled them. I have heard nothing buy good things about the Trends and Sonic class T stuff, but they really need an easy speaker to drive.

That's what I was wondering. I don't mind spending the money on the HK or something similar, but if the trends or sonic provide a better sound then I'd rather put my money there. I don't need them to be "shaking the walls" loud because 90% of the time I won't be able to listen to them like that. So if turning up the volume will provide the current needed to effectively power them, then that isn't a problem. But, I don't know if that is the case, so that is what I need to know.

The hk does look pretty nice though, although I'm not too sure where I can purchase it from. I couldn't even find it on hk's website. Do you know of a place that sells it?
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post #14 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 05:10 PM
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You can get some good amp deals on the used audio market, maybe a Rotel RB 1050 or 1070. Or you could try one of the cheap pro amps, such as Behringer.
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post #15 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 08:22 PM - Thread Starter
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With a power amp like the RB-1070, would I need a pre amp? Or would the computer act as a type of preamp since I can control the volume on there?
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post #16 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 08:40 PM
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I would recommend a preamp with the 1070, you could use a cheaper pro audio mixer, or optimally the RC-1070 preamp. The preamp is I think only $400ish new, or less used. I honestly don't think that the Sonic or Trends will have the juice for these speakers
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post #17 of 20 Old 07-16-2007, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, if that's the case then I'm definitely going to think about that HK or maybe a used rotel combo. I appreciate all the advice.
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post #18 of 20 Old 07-17-2007, 04:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by szap View Post

With a power amp like the RB-1070, would I need a pre amp? Or would the computer act as a type of preamp since I can control the volume on there?

If you are going to use only a single source, (PC audio feed) then all you really need is a HQ passive volume control. Just make sure the interconnect cables between the volume pot and amplifier is as short as possible, as in a foot or two only. Heck, you could even start out by building a diy unit made from Radio Shack parts, for pretty much peanuts.

If you were to go with the Squeezebox, it does have it's own digital volume control, which is another advantage to it. But you have to be careful about how much attenuation it does, too much and you lose "bits" of info. Also if there is a software problem, it may send a full voltage signal to the amp/speakers, which might not be good in your case.

At one time I was using my SB3 directly into an Aragon 8008BB amp, driving a pair of Magnepan MMG speakers. Because of the sensitivity match between the amp and speakers, full out volume from the SB was just enough to be "almost too loud". So I had to back down just slightly on the Squeezebox's control, and it worked out nicely.

Other options would be a Squeezbox plus power amp with gain control knobs, or an integrated amp.
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post #19 of 20 Old 07-30-2007, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Just to let you know, I went ahead and made my amp purchase today. I wound up increasing my budget and went with a Marantz PM 7001(found it for $540 at Crutchfield). I'll be back to give my impressions once it arrives and I get it all setup.
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post #20 of 20 Old 07-31-2007, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkhome View Post

If you were to go with the Squeezebox, it does have it's own digital volume control, which is another advantage to it. But you have to be careful about how much attenuation it does, too much and you lose "bits" of info. Also if there is a software problem, it may send a full voltage signal to the amp/speakers, which might not be good in your case.

At one time I was using my SB3 directly into an Aragon 8008BB amp, driving a pair of Magnepan MMG speakers. Because of the sensitivity match between the amp and speakers, full out volume from the SB was just enough to be "almost too loud". So I had to back down just slightly on the Squeezebox's control, and it worked out nicely.

Other options would be a Squeezbox plus power amp with gain control knobs, or an integrated amp.

I have a SqueezeBox 3 hooked directly to a Parasound amp driving Ascend 340SEs. No issues with volume control, and it sounds fantastic.
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