Audiophile upgrade on a budget

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by SteamedGiraffe, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. SteamedGiraffe macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2010
    #1
    I've been thinking about updating my setup. I am currently running Apple Lossless files directly out of my Macbook Pro into my NAD 3225PE Amplifier, and then from there to my B&W 685s. I also play CD's using a TEAC PD-200 player running directly into the Amplifier.

    I am willing to spend about $500, and here's my question:

    What would the best use of my money be? Should I upgrade my CD player, my sound card, my computer output, my cables...? :confused: I'm relatively new to the audiophile scene so any help would be really appreciated :)

    -Giraffe
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #2
    easy: treat your room.

    buy 4 of these for $280 and pocket the rest.

    or spend a bit more and get some of these for $200 each, and place at your first reflection points (left/right/ceiling).
     
  3. SteamedGiraffe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2010
    #3
    those look awesome...but I have more trouble with treble (heh, no pun intended) being wayy to resonant in my cell block-like dorm room. All the walls are cement blocks. Is there anything like that to reduce overwhelming (peircing at times) treble? I know how the tweeters in my speakers are supposed to sound, and it's different from what I hear in this room :p
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #4
    they're called bass traps, but they're actually broad-spectrum. they'll help to tame the higher frequencies, as well.

    if, after installed, you're still having high freq problems, then you can add a bit of absorption. i don't like starting with that, as it's easy to overdo it and turn everything into mush.

    i forgot to say it above, but the 4 traps should straddle the 4 corners of the room, or the best approximation thereof. i've got (iirc) 13 traps in my (small) control room, plus one diffusor and 3 absorption panels.

    it works very, very well for hearing detail and separation.
     
  5. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    I spent a large chunk of my student loan last term on a pair of vintage floorstanders.

    [​IMG]

    they cost me £450 and sound better than systems friends of mine have spent thousands on.

    10Hz-40KHz flat, 200w per cabinate ^_^

    You seem to get way more bang for your buck if you invest in certain bits of retro kit.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    Spend the first $50 of your $500 budget on a Radio Shack sound level meter. It is about the cheapest way to measure frequency response at your listening position. Maybe buy the bass traps or maybe something else for the room but you can't fix it if you can't measure it.

    The next level of sophistication is software that uses the Rat Shack meter as a measurement microphone and sends out test signals. But you can work simple tones and graph paper just as well

    Normall it is best to spend money one what is closest to your ears. "sources" like CD players and the like are almost never the weak link. Even a $100 cd player is likely to be far better than your speakers.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    I agree with that 100% I have a pair of 70's vintage Infinity speakers. Some people will argue that the Infinity "Quantum Line Source" speakers are the best that were ever made. That may even be true. They sold new for $10K but today they are reasonably affordable. I've got the model about two steps down and of the same vintage.
    http://www.infinity-classics.de/infinity/models/Quantum-series-1976/Quantum-Line-Source-QLS-1/QLS_1_7_1a.jpg
     
  8. gatepc, Dec 3, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2010

    gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #8
    If I was you I would do what the other user suggested and treat the room to improve sound. But also pick up the Music Streamer II DAC which will help a ton since it appears your only using onboard sound. Having an external DAC helps because you don't get as much interference from other computer components. But also the Music Streamer is a Duel Mono design meaning that it only processes one channel per chip which also reduces the interference and other unwanted sound. It also has great DAC chips in it. I own this model very easy to setup and works great with high end audio equipment best of all it competes with some DACs many times its price.

    Another note is that the music streamer II is one of the few DACs that use Async for under 2 grand. Which eliminates a lot of jitter. You can also buy this DAC directly from Amazon which is nice.
     
  9. Xavier macrumors 68020

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    Mar 23, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus
    #9
    Very nice my friend.

    I am in the process of restoring a pair of old epicure floor speakers. Very nice in their day but bot the tweeters and woofers are blown on both :(.
     
  10. Mawal, Dec 4, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2010

    Mawal macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    #10
    you may want to consider getting an external DAC like the Dacmagic or the V-Dac.

    i doubt that the DAC in the Macbook complies with audiophile standards. So an improvement using an external DAC is to be expected.
     
  11. ChrisA, Dec 4, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2010

    ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    The OP has a $500 total budget. So one comes at the expense of the other.
     
  12. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #12
    How are your speakers mounted? Are they on stands, or just sat on a desk?

    Correct positioning of your speakers can make much more of a difference to the sound than changing the speakers themselves in some situations, so positioning is vital.

    Also, as zimv20 says, treat your room. A detailed room layout or 360º*pictures would be handy...
     
  13. SteamedGiraffe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2010
    #13
    @Killyp, my speakers are on a shelf about seven feet apart, at about 4 feet off the floor. Ik they are just bookshelf speakers, I would be so much more happy with floor speakers, but I don't have money (or room) for them.

    @gatepc, what about Apple's airport express? would if fulfill the same purpose?

    I will definitely look into treating the room, probably with things mounted on the wall though. I have no room for stands in my corners :p
     
  14. gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

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    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #14
    No the airport express would not fulfill this unless you got a DAC for that as well and it would be pointless since it would be a worse solution and cost more. Unless you need it to be wireless its a worse solution.

    A DAC is basically a sound card it processes the sound. The airport just streams it.
     
  15. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #15
    Make sure you mount treatment in the right places. Random bits of acoustic treatment can sometimes do more bad than good if not mounted in the right place...
     

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