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DTMark

Av Speakers Vs Vinyl

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I have a thread saved from before, as I'm finally going to get around to this.

We have a smart TV linked to an ancient Denon amplifier and a pair of equally ancient Eltax speakers.

I'll be ordering a turntable next week, probably the Pro-ject II one, and the necessary phono amplifier.

At the same time we want to put in a full speaker setup for the TV/DVD and I picked up a magazine to see recommendations. These come highly recommended:

Q ACOUSTICS 2000i 5.1 HOME CINEMA SPEAKER PACKAGE

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006PG7WPE

71VFuIHIPBL._SX425_.jpg

Then we'll need a new amplifier/receiver, have looked at several.

Has been years since I've had the vinyl working so looking forward to that.

Question is this...

There will have to be compromise somewhere as I can't be doing with a separate pair of speakers just for the vinyl with a separate amplifier.

Am I right in thinking those speakers, while being great for AV, aren't going to be up to all that much for two channel stereo vinyl just relying on the front pair alone - should I be looking at a more bespoke speaker set with better front ones?

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It's very tricky combining AV and Stereo... my final solution which I am happy with is to have your stereo source going into either a pre/power amp setup, or an inetgrated stereo amp. That then goes into your front speakers.

Next, your blu-ray etc go into an av amplifer, which then connects to your centre, surround and sub.

The bit that links to both is that your av amplifier sends its FR and FL pre-outs to a 2nd input of the pre/power or stereo integrated amp.

So, when listening to stereo you use input 1, when listening to AV you use input 2.

I know it sounds convoluted but any other option is a compromise (unless you want to spend biiiiig bucks on a high end AV Amplifer that does decent stereo too).

Equipment wise you;d need:

AV amp (£500) - there probably isn;t much between them these days - just check out what hifi

Stereo integrated amp or Pre/power amps - £250 upwards

AV speaker system £500 up, but bargains on ebay of course - make sure the front ones are full range (i.e. not satellite ones) as my above recommendation doesn't use the sub when listening to stereo.

Hope that helps :)

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Should have said... to do it in stages, get the AV amp and speakers first (yes with full range front speakers). When the time is right, get the stereo amp (or pre/power amps) and add in to the system.

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That sounds like a really good solution.

I shall pick up some more hi-fi magazines this weekend. I think the one I picked up might have been a bit high end since just about everything in the recommended lists has four figure price tags.

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You will need big front speakers for music! That's what I have! Most AV amps are very good for stereo, but many don't have a phono stage. I think a Projekt one is about £50! Some AV amps are not that good at music reproduction, but I like my Yamaha. They are after all a music equipment company!! I don't need a subwoofer!

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Might be worth assembling the speaker system from parts if you're not fussy about the finish(some of the best deals may only be available in the wood finishes), seems cheaper:

2010i main/rears at £129 per pair are widely available. The package has 2 pairs of these.

2000ci centre channel £70, down from £99:
http://www.avland.co.uk/aasp/qacoustics/0920/2000c/2000c.asp

2070i subwoofer £265 (widely available at this price):
http://www.richersounds.com/product/subwoofers/q-acoustics/2070i/qaco-2070i-graph

£129+£129+£70+£265 = £595, have I missed something?

If you may not need one pair of of the 2010i speakers then you can reduce that to £465 and put the rest towards some main channel hifi speakers instead, eg Q acoustics concept 20 at £349:

http://www.richersounds.com/product/standmount-speakers/q-acoustics/concept-20/qaco-concept-20-blk

or the older equivalent(it seems) Q acoustics 2020i at £169, which seem to have been regarded as decent hifi ones in their own right:

http://homeavdirect.co.uk/q-acoustics-2020i-bookshelf-speakers


So you could assemble a similar system using the 2020i for £635 and have better fronts to boot, or the newer concept 20 for £815.

Dunno if this is the best kit, but is not a bad idea to keep it all the same manufacturer, a piece of advice I have admittedly ignored in my own setup.

EDIT It might be worth a trip to Richer Sounds in Guildford to use their demo room to hear the kit in action, possibly with the turntable you plan to get too.

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You will need big front speakers for music! That's what I have! Most AV amps are very good for stereo, but many don't have a phono stage. I think a Projekt one is about £50! Some AV amps are not that good at music reproduction, but I like my Yamaha. They are after all a music equipment company!! I don't need a subwoofer!

Yamaha are a solid 8/10 in nearly everything they do.

From bikes to mixing desks.

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One simply has ones AV system in the cinema rum.

And ones gramophone in the music rum.

All piped through to the Orangery of course.....

Funny you should mention this..

I recall asking about music systems that can play multiple sources and someone, I think, DaveBeans, mentioned the Sonos systems.

We found ourselves in PC World today - actually looking for a router, but they didn't have what I needed, and then looked at AV systems - just browsing.

Someone genuinely knowledgeable came over and on listening to what I wanted, recommended the same.

The vinyl/amp/speakers could be completely separate.

We could start with a front sound bar and rear speakers (599 sound bar + 169 rear speaker x 2) for the "5 channel" audio. Also needs the control device with is £32.

Optionally we could add the Sonos sub for another £599 if we felt we needed it. The total is 599 + 599 + 169 + 169 + 32 = £1,568

This will then pipe all the audio from e.g. my PC and our Apple devices to the speakers. As it's digital I'm not so bothered about the sound quality as it will always be crap compared with the vinyl. It will never manage real sound-staging or clarity no matter how much I spend on it, I've heard 10k+ high-end digital systems (e.g. Naim) and they still can't do that and sound crappy; the main point is the ability to "play anything".

Separately we then get the turntable and phono stage, piped through the existing amp and speakers which would remain (yes, I know I said I didn't want that... but - best of both worlds) which we can then upgrade/pursue separately.

The Sonos system isn't true 5 channel as it's a sound bar at the front. On the other hand it's well rated and actually seems pretty unique. I'm tempted by the ability to have the convenience and the sound quality aspects for AV. And it does separate the vinyl and AV.

I probably would have put it all on the credit card were it not for the fact that the Basingstoke PC World doesn't stock the sound bars which means a trip to Guildford. There are no bargains on these, it's like Apple kit - it costs the same everywhere, even Richer Sounds.

Any views..

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This will then pipe all the audio from e.g. my PC and our Apple devices to the speakers. As it's digital I'm not so bothered about the sound quality as it will always be crap compared with the vinyl. It will never manage real sound-staging or clarity no matter how much I spend on it, I've heard 10k+ high-end digital systems (e.g. Naim) and they still can't do that and sound crappy; the main point is the ability to "play anything".

As someone who loves vinyl, and who has had some transcendent listening experiences from my LP12 through various high-end Sennheisers, it pains me to say this- but from a sound fidelity perpective, as in faithfulness to the original source, vinyl is crap, and you absolutely mustn't believe anyone who tells you it's better 'because it's pure analogue' or any of that nonsense. The frequency response curve is all over the place; even with a top end elliptical stylus you get no meaningful fidelity over about 10 KHz, stereo channel separation is ~30dB at best...it wouldn't surprise me if even a 128kbps MP3 provides a closer approximation to the studio master than even the most expensive turntable playing a 180g audiophile pressing disc.

Of course I would choose to listen to the vinyl over the MP3 every single time, as it would almost certainly be a warmer, funkier, more satisfying listen, but that's not because the vinyl is more accurate- it's more because (and I'm stepping beyond the limits of what I understand here) the vinyl tends to odd-order distortions which are ear-friendly, and the digital to even-order ones which are not.

I've stopped using the LP12, to cut a long story short it's an old one with a very light tonearm, so needs a high compliance cartridge, and you can't get replacement stylii for the Arcam 77 cartridge it came with- I took a punt on a secondhand P77 for £60 from ebay which was great for a few months but which has now developed a sibilance on female vocals, so I'm worried that the diamond is knackered and will hurt my records :( . However a few years ago I bought a Sony DTC-A8 DAC recorder, which was a grand when it was new in the 90s, for £47 on ebay. I've never used the actual DAT bit of it except to test it, but I do use it as a DAC, and it sounds sensational. I should have done a back to back listening to some Abba when I had the LP12 working at the same time, but I reckon it would have been hard to choose- probably warmer bass and more drum attack from the Linn, much better vocal clarity from the DAT.

And so to your problem- I'm generally of the opinion that money should be apportioned in the following order of priority when it comes to hi-fi: Speakers (or headphones) first, source second, amp last. Any reasonably well designed amp will introduce very minimal distortions when operating within its normal envelope. Sources do sounds different as I discovered when I put my £100 Technics CD player up against the £1000 Sony DAT. But speakers make a huge difference- we once ran my friend's £500 kit speakers from my bog-basic £140 AV amp and they sounded sensational (albeit that £500 kit speakers are equivalent to £1000 bought speakers realistically). There is simply no way that a £400 amp powering a £400 pair of speakers would have sounded anything like as good.

I don't really have any concrete reccomendation to make as to kit, as I'm well out of the loop on current gear- my last hi-fi purchase was when I found Richer Sounds were doing a Teac 7.1 AV amp which supported HDMI switching and lossless DTS and Dolby for £100- snapped that up and then trawled ebay until I managed to get a Gale surround sound setup of 3030i fronts, 3050i centre, 3070i sub and four 3060d (I think) satellites for about £150 all in. It sounds great but TBH I've only had the surround satellites out and round the room about 5 times since I got it all, I can't leave them setup all the time :( . I'd like to replace the 3030s with 3040s as at proper party volumes the 3030s are all out, quite worrying cone excursion and they can clip a bit, but I'm biding my time with a saved search on ebay until some come up locally at the right price.

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If you like your music, big front speakers are a must! Then you won't need a sub-woofer!

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If you visit an audio forum you will find as many different opinions on audio as you do hear about the economy.

For example there is the 'source first' philosophy - spend most on the front end.

The 'amp is the heart of the system approach' - start with a good amp and work out.

Speakers first, usually but not always, the bigger the better - blow loads on speakers and then think about the rest of it. (most people think this approach is seriously unbalanced).

I think the key word is BALANCE. Every component you get should work together and compliment the others.

I have gone down a slightly different path recently and currently have some omnidirectional speakers. I am using some Shahinian Obelisks but they do need a powerful amplifier to drive them.

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MrPin likes big speakers!

And tits and bum! ;)

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As someone who loves vinyl, and who has had some transcendent listening experiences from my LP12 through various high-end Sennheisers, it pains me to say this- but from a sound fidelity perpective, as in faithfulness to the original source, vinyl is crap, and you absolutely mustn't believe anyone who tells you it's better 'because it's pure analogue' or any of that nonsense. The frequency response curve is all over the place; even with a top end elliptical stylus you get no meaningful fidelity over about 10 KHz, stereo channel separation is ~30dB at best...it wouldn't surprise me if even a 128kbps MP3 provides a closer approximation to the studio master than even the most expensive turntable playing a 180g audiophile pressing disc.

Of course I would choose to listen to the vinyl over the MP3 every single time, as it would almost certainly be a warmer, funkier, more satisfying listen, but that's not because the vinyl is more accurate- it's more because (and I'm stepping beyond the limits of what I understand here) the vinyl tends to odd-order distortions which are ear-friendly, and the digital to even-order ones which are not.

I've stopped using the LP12, to cut a long story short it's an old one with a very light tonearm, so needs a high compliance cartridge, and you can't get replacement stylii for the Arcam 77 cartridge it came with- I took a punt on a secondhand P77 for £60 from ebay which was great for a few months but which has now developed a sibilance on female vocals, so I'm worried that the diamond is knackered and will hurt my records :( . However a few years ago I bought a Sony DTC-A8 DAC recorder, which was a grand when it was new in the 90s, for £47 on ebay. I've never used the actual DAT bit of it except to test it, but I do use it as a DAC, and it sounds sensational. I should have done a back to back listening to some Abba when I had the LP12 working at the same time, but I reckon it would have been hard to choose- probably warmer bass and more drum attack from the Linn, much better vocal clarity from the DAT.

Sorry, but hogwash! You have an old low spec LP12 that presumably hasn't been serviced or set up in many a year. It's going to sound crap.

My LP12 and CD player sound tonally and dynamically very similar on the same material. The turntable has better groove, timing and flow which makes it a better listen.

To be fair, getting the best out of vinyl isn't cheap.

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If you want the musicality of vinyl without the hassle, try a non oversampling DAC.

Early days of digital audio, designers were worried about the step like reproduction of what should be a smooth curve. So they oversampled, meaning the waveform now had lots of smaller steps. In practice, it seems that the human ear has no problem smoothing out the steps but is extremely sensitive to changes in rhythm. The minute changes in rhythm from a conventional DAC can cause listener fatigue.

I've had a Devilsound DAC for some years, it is one of the cheapest nos DACs at ~£300, zero listener fatigue. Next up in quality is probably the DAC1 at £1,000 or so.

I've found that a really good 2 channel system is more than adequate. As we get older, zero crossover distortion is appreciated more so single driver speakers fit the bill. If you're into the movie, your imagination places the sounds where they should be.

T-Amps are simply amazing at any price and they're pretty cheap. They give enough detail to hear separate voices in a choir and the soundstage is huge. Downside is that most are 12v so you need sensitive drivers. Also, poorly recorded music sounds awful on a T-Amp but the good stuff is oh so good.

Time to play 'Sticky Fingers' nice and loud. :)

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There does appear to be another option which integrates the Sonos system with the existing kit, which is the CONNECT box with amp - so you can plug the two existing front speakers into that and - I presume - you can then bring the vinyl in via the external phono stage and route that to the two front speakers only. So basically the Sonos amp replaces the existing standalone one. This would, and again I assume, give a 5 channel AV setup, the sound-bar would only do the front centre channel.

That's another £399.

The remote control features of the system are irrelevant for vinyl given that you have to get off your chair and manually swap the records anyway.

I guess if you're looking at a spend of about £1,900 on this system you could contrast that with what you could achieve with separates, where this thing seems to win is the remote control and streaming capabilities. It does look like a good compromise and it's supposed to sound good, though it seems like a lot to spend on digital - but it's mostly for the TV capabilities. But then that could be achieved with a good £400 amp and £600 speaker set.

Think I'll have to find somewhere that has the system set up to demo and see if the quality level is up to the convenience, ideally, taking along some vinyl and having them route that through it to see if it could be a one-stop solution or not.

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T-Amps are simply amazing at any price and they're pretty cheap. They give enough detail to hear separate voices in a choir and the soundstage is huge. Downside is that most are 12v so you need sensitive drivers. Also, poorly recorded music sounds awful on a T-Amp but the good stuff is oh so good.

Time to play 'Sticky Fingers' nice and loud. :)

I'm interested in getting a budget system based around a t-amp for direct input from an ipod, but I don't really understand the electronic requirements too well - would I need super expensive high sensitivity speakers to get good sound from it? I generally listen to music on fairly low volume, so would bookshelf speakers rated at 88db work with this kind of amp?

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Yamaha are a solid 8/10 in nearly everything they do.

From bikes to mixing desks.

Mr Digger! Nothing dud is ever sold with "Yamaha" written on it!

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I've still never managed to figure out how to split quotes from original posters to address points one by one, so my replies are in bold. If anyone knows how to do it on the new forums software please enlighten me!

Sorry, but hogwash! You have an old

Yep mid 70s going by the serial number

low spec LP12

Been Valhalla'd, but otherwise yep

that presumably hasn't been serviced or set up in many a year.

True

It's going to sound crap.

On the contrary, as I said it sounds awesome when it's working properly

My LP12 and CD player sound tonally and dynamically very similar on the same material. The turntable has better groove, timing and flow which makes it a better listen.

I should have done a back to back listening to some Abba when I had the LP12 working at the same time, but I reckon it would have been hard to choose- probably warmer bass and more drum attack from the Linn, much better vocal clarity from the DAT.

Not sure what you're calling hogwash TBH?

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I've still never managed to figure out how to split quotes from original posters to address points one by one, so my replies are in bold. If anyone knows how to do it on the new forums software please enlighten me!

Not sure what you're calling hogwash TBH?

I think the gist of it is that there must be something terribly wrong with the turntable for any digital source to be even faintly comparable.

I've heard £1k vinyl systems utterly slaughter top end digital systems, my analogy is that the digital copy is like listening to a mere recording whereas the vinyl is being there and having it performed live in front of you.

I've always assumed this is purely down to an incredibly low sampling rate so most of the detail is lost, which you can reproduce by recording vinyl onto a CD or mini disc and simply comparing the abysmal quality of the output with the original.

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I think the gist of it is that there must be something terribly wrong with the turntable for any digital source to be even faintly comparable.

Good records sound great! Not sure it's "better" than digital, it does have pops and crackles!! Mind you, you are talking to a bloke without a camera in the phone!

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I think the gist of it is that there must be something terribly wrong with the turntable for any digital source to be even faintly comparable.

I've heard £1k vinyl systems utterly slaughter top end digital systems, my analogy is that the digital copy is like listening to a mere recording whereas the vinyl is being there and having it performed live in front of you.

I've always assumed this is purely down to an incredibly low sampling rate so most of the detail is lost, which you can reproduce by recording vinyl onto a CD or mini disc and simply comparing the abysmal quality of the output with the original.

Arrrggh! This horrible laptop once again through it's oversensitive touchpad managed to wipe a thoughtful and scientifically researched reply that I'd spent an hour on, wiped it just before I was ready to post. I'm furious.

So to just get it done, CD 44.1Khz sampling is as good as human ears can hear, as it can theoretically reproduce soundwaves up to 22.05Khz, which is above the threshold of human hearing. To claim that vinyl can rival CD for fidelity to the source is utter nonsense.

And so... I absolutely love vinyl a) because it sounds great B) because I've bought so many wonderful wonderful records for 50p or a pound at boot fairs/ charity shops and c) the process of carefully pulling a record from its sleeve, putting it on the platter, and using the hydraulic mechanism to drop the needle on is so much more satisfying than plonking a CD in a drawer and pressing play.

But I must enforce the point that anyone who claims vinyl is more 'high fidelity' to the sound of the master is either an idiot or a misguided vinyl fanatic. To claim that vinyl sounds better than CD on equal terms is IMO equivalent to claiming that a SNES is a better gaming system than a PS3.

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Arrrggh! This horrible laptop once again through it's oversensitive touchpad managed to wipe a thoughtful and scientifically researched reply that I'd spent an hour on, wiped it just before I was ready to post. I'm furious.

So to just get it done, CD 44.1Khz sampling is as good as human ears can hear, as it can theoretically reproduce soundwaves up to 22.05Khz, which is above the threshold of human hearing. To claim that vinyl can rival CD for fidelity to the source is utter nonsense.

And so... I absolutely love vinyl a) because it sounds great B) because I've bought so many wonderful wonderful records for 50p or a pound at boot fairs/ charity shops and c) the process of carefully pulling a record from its sleeve, putting it on the platter, and using the hydraulic mechanism to drop the needle on is so much more satisfying than plonking a CD in a drawer and pressing play.

But I must enforce the point that anyone who claims vinyl is more 'high fidelity' to the sound of the master is either an idiot or a misguided vinyl fanatic. To claim that vinyl sounds better than CD on equal terms is IMO equivalent to claiming that a SNES is a better gaming system than a PS3.

Often when people compare what they hear with vinyl and what they hear with digital media they attribute important things about what they're hearing to the medium, when other things like production and mastering techniques have changed (in many ways for the worse) over time.

Modern rock albums are mostly mixed and mastered to have very little dynamic range, because everybody is using heavy limiting and compression to make their album as loud as possible. When you listen to a CD that`s been mixed/mastered that way and then put on an old record mastered in an old school way you'll notice that the vinyl seems to have better dynamic range and causes less audio fatigue with prolonged listening. When that happens it's not because vinyl is fundamentally superior to CD. It`s because the people who produced the CD are morons.

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