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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for someone that has some of the higher end Theta products. I currently have a Casablanca that I hope to upgrade soon to the II. But how good do my speakers need to be to justify upgrading the DAC? When am I really going to tell the difference between single ended and balanced? A recent interview with Theta representatives has me very interested. They made a stong case for their take on the audio chain.
 

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Michael, you are about in the right place for anything one needs to know about Theta. Our in house Theta guru Steve Bruzonsky (he still moderates the special guest & DIY sections) can probably talk with you about Theta till your heart contents. :) I believe he has a Theta transport & the CB2. You can try PM or e-mail Steve in case he miss this thread.


I also own a CB1 but since then had turned my attention exclusively to stereo music hence leaving the CB doing the measely duty of analog direct from my TT. I do plan on upgrading to the CB2 eventually probably with extreme DACs for the front channels while leaving the surrounds/rears with superior DAC's. I do use a pair of Theta amps for my stereo system with the Perp Tech combo & a SF tube pre upstream.


Logically for someone to invest in the CB1 as pre/pro he/she has to have a relatively high level of expectation in the system's (from source to speakers) performance. It would help if you tell us about the rest of your system and what config your CB has & will after the upgrade.


Cheers.


PF
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The reason I left out the rest was I am trying to decide what parts of the rest of the system to upgrade first, and to what level. Currently I have standard DACs and mid-fi speakers. I am currently using a Cinema Grand 5 chanel amp. I am looking at the Revel line of speakers and trying to decide if the F30s warrant upgrading to a balanced amp such as the Dreadnaught. Whether the extreme DAC is a good investment without speakers in the Salon or Studio ranks. Since I am going to have to upgrade in stages (I do not have 100K to drop at one time), I am soliciting experience.
 

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Hi Mike,

I'm a long time theta fan (CBI with krell amps and Theil speakers 1 HT and Integra Research RDC7, theta dreadnaught and B&Wn speakers in another)...


I have not heard the new DACs, but for the money I'd require an in home demo with any of the associated equipment you're considering. Not sure where you're located, but ideally you'd find a dealer who carries theta, revel and other lines in order to compare. If you commit to spending $X a good dealer will let you play at home til your hearts content.


Good luck with it, should be fun, upgrades always are!:)

TB
 

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The speakers you choose are going to make the biggest diff. in sound quality.

They'll create the most distortion (no matter how good they are) and most define the 'tonal quality' of your sound no matter what level (to be specific) DAC's from Theta you use. The better DAC's though, the better whatever speakers will sound.


Asking how good should the speakers be compared to how good the DAC's are is a blackhole of a question. Both the speaker recommendations and DAC's performance levels will be opinion from everybody.


The Revel F30's are great and have a very flat freq. response which IMO is a must when you're talking lots of money and audiophile sound. Now, you still might not like them as much as some other speakers though. It depends. There's a TON of great speakers out there. Your choice there will mean a lot more IMO than 'superior' or 'extreme' Theta DAC's.


For exampl. -I have 91db eff. Newform Research speakers. They're cheaper than the Revel's and much more eff. (meaning they need much less amp power to run the same volume as the Revels).

Pretty 'wild' looking with a 45" ribbon driver on top of a bass box using Scan Speak 8545's (used in tons of super high end speakers. Scan Speak co-designed the Revel tweeter in the Salons by the way and are considered one of the very best driver designers in the world).


The Newform ribbon is faster than any dome tweeter though, super open, and very dynamic. From high to low the speaker has a very flat freq. response, and the ribbon and cones blend together seamlessly. Only available online though. Check 'em out. Tons or rave reviews available. You'll get more for your money than you will w/ the F30's.


I don't know what 'mid-fi' speakers you have, but if you're running a Theta on them there's a 99% chance you're not hearing how good that Theta you already own is.


Don't upgrade that Theta till you max out the sound quality you already have coming out of your system now.


Your choice of amp will make a big diff. too. The Theta amps are great. Everything Theta is great. If you have the money (and I guess you must) you can't go wrong with anything that says Theta on it.


Now that being said... digital amps from Bel Canto and PS Audio are getting rave reviews as being the next wave in state of the art over any analog design -from high end tube designs to solid state 'big boys' like Krell, Theta, and Mark Levinson).


Clearer, more precise, more eff. (run super cool and are small in size compared to massive solid state 'space heaters'), and totally linear response (last watt sounds like the first watt -whereas analog amps will change sound when maxed out).


If I were you I'd find your 'perfect' speakers first, and make sure they're set up perfectly also (don't compromise on that when you're speanding that much money).


Then try the PS Audio HCA-2. It's got a 30 day money back guar. (so do the Newform Research speakers). Compare it directly to the Theta amps -borrow one from a hi-fi shop. They should do it since you need to hear what it sounds like on your system before you're sure you really want to buy it.


After you're set on audiophile greade speakers and best sounding amps to match, then you'll be maxing out your current Theta. Maybe then you can 'try' the better DAC's are see if they're worth it.


I'd do that last though in your situation.
 

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Michael, as I can see there are still lots of unknowns in your question such as ultimate budget, timing & listening preference. Working with a fixed budget right at this moment will be a lot easier given the different rates of advancement in each aspect of a system (source, pre/pro, amp & speaker). Your listening preference/emphasis (stereo vs multi-channel) will help to decide whether you can load up on the front two channels while going economical on the others.


With the relatively slowest rate of advancement in speaker technology, I tend to agree to going all out on speakers (2 vs 5 plus SW) and compare amps before upgrading the CB for the way DAC technology goes you should be able to get more as time goes on.


Just my $.02 & have fun.


PF
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the input. I was thinking that upgrading the CB to the CBII was important to use the newer cards and to keep from being unable to upgrade in the future. If any of you know for sure that the CB upgrade is not going to expire that would be good to know. Also the cost of the upgrade seems reasonable given the reclocking feature, extra chanels, and the better base management options.


I agree that the rest of my system is not up to the CB in quality. I was motivated by the ability to upgrade in stages.


My main use of the system is for movies and ocasional music. Therefore the speakers need to be good all around. If all goes well this year I hope to have about 20-30k this year to spend on toys. Not all the toys will be A/V equipment but that will be a large part of it. The computer toys my company buys me for the most part.


Given the responses above I would think that you would recomend I spend the money on speakers (say the Gems in the Revel line), rather than spending less on the speakers to have money left to upgrade the amplification or DACs. That was my original thought, but the article about the Theta attention to detail had me wondering.
 

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Michael, do a Search at the Tweaks forum re Theta and you'll find lotsa stuff. You have to decide where the bucks get you the most, no easy chore.

The CB2 is a big upgrade from the 1 version, nice to have regardless of the rest of your system. The Xtreme DACs are tops but frankly, for most systems, the Superior DACs are fine. But its true that your speakers are likely the most significant component. I will tell you that with quality speakers and amps, the CB2 with at minimum Superior DACs (look on Audiogon and you can at times find used Superior DAC cards pretty cheap, for those like me who upgraded to Xtreme DACs) sounds darn fine!!!
 
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