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Sound system - any recommendations

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 Philip 13 Jan 2021

Missing my hifi separates (sold on here 14 years ago).

I want to stream Spotify and some podcasts and here the music in glorious stereo (not from a Google Home type speaker).

Thank seem to have kept in value and I think £1k is too much for the R5. Any suggestions, WiFi and Spotify connect essential. DAB would be a bonus. Sound quality and visual appeal important.

 Jmacquarrie 13 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

You're probably better sticking this on Pinkfish or the WAM, you'll get lots more answers, although it'll only be 5 minutes before it becomes a cable argument like usual.

Buy a decent second hand amp and speakers and then use a Raspberry Pi to stream through.

 Philip 13 Jan 2021
In reply to Jmacquarrie:

I quite like the simplicity of the Ruark R3. Just not convinced about the price. I'm not messing around with a pi or 2nd hand stuff.

 Jmacquarrie 13 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

Fair enough if you want simple, but for hifi where a lot of people are perennial box swappers second hand is an excellent way to go.

No idea what Ruark's stuff is like nowadays, they did make some lovely speakers before they shifted to all in one units, still got a pair of Prologues myself.

In reply to Philip:

Probably not quite what you had in mind but how about standard hi fi separates with a Bluetooth receiver into the AUX IN, and stream from phone/tablet? Does the Bluetooth transmission kill the glorious quality? I have a similar set up but don't actually use it much (separates are for a turntable and watching movies), and certainly not enough to be able to report sound quality (I have cloth ears anyway) 

In reply to Philip:

I don't think Spotify offers a lossless service. And podcasts are unlikely to be lossless. So that will be the limiting factor.

In which case, just use a cheap class-D amp; about £7 delivered from China...

These class-D amps aren't bad at all...

Alternatively, I'd go secondhand. I've seen some cracking stuff at silly prices. [edit: for instance, I have a Denon DRA-N5 I picked up for bedroom use for £40. Not the highest audio quality, but good internet radio, DLNA renderer and amp, driving 2nd hand Kef eggs, £35 for a set of five].

With an RPi, you'd get internet radio, so DAB would be moot.

Post edited at 00:17
 wintertree 13 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

A pair of used Quad 57s isn’t too out of your budget.

That hits sound quality and visual appeal. I keep asking myself if it’s finally time to get a pair of quads.  I think it is.o

Although if you’re considering DAB the quality of the speakers is hardly the limiting factor...

In reply to captain paranoia:

> These class-D amps aren't bad at all...

Funnily enough my workshop has a cheap D class amp and a pair of 1980s Tannoy speakers.  Net cost under £100 and I can plug in a fibre or Bluetooth to send digital audio.  In practice I use a 3.5 mm jack as fibre died an early death and I don’t want to claw my ears out at compression artefacts from BT.  Some people don’t notice them or mpeg artefacts on screen.  I envy their muted existence.

Post edited at 23:58
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Does the Bluetooth transmission kill the glorious quality?

Yes. There are no lossless Bluetooth audio profiles.

In reply to wintertree:

> I keep asking myself if it’s finally time to get a pair of quads.  I think it is.o

Make sure they've been fully refurbished...

I have a few 'Sanwu' class-D amps, one of which has BT4 0 audio and an FM receiver, and a 3116 amp. It cost £6.50. Powered by a laptop supply...

I worked on a motion jpeg video transmission system; mpeg artefacts are rather intrusive. Especially on low light scenes on terrestrial TV.

Post edited at 00:12
In reply to captain paranoia:

> > Does the Bluetooth transmission kill the glorious quality?

> Yes. There are no lossless Bluetooth audio profiles.

Thanks, I kind of knew or guessed that; what I meant was "in the context of what the OP is proposing". He is talking about streaming. Would I be right to assume that he is on about some sort of dedicated unit that connects direct to WiFi, and that this will give a noticeably better sound than streaming over Bluetooth? I am about 30, possibly 40 years behind  

In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Would I be right to assume that he is on about some sort of dedicated unit that connects direct to WiFi,

You'd have to ask the OP. I'm currently on my third hi-res streaming trial of covid (Qobuz, AmazonHD, and now Tidal HiFi, 4 months for £4). But I use PCs and a USB DAC.

 Philip 14 Jan 2021
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Thanks, I kind of knew or guessed that; what I meant was "in the context of what the OP is proposing". He is talking about streaming. Would I be right to assume that he is on about some sort of dedicated unit that connects direct to WiFi, and that this will give a noticeably better sound than streaming over Bluetooth? I am about 30, possibly 40 years behind  

It's not about sound quality with BT. I don't want the faff of connecting devices. My phone is only paired to my work conference speaker, my car and one set of headphones. My tablet isn't connected to any, my watch is connected to a different set of headphones. I want to be able start Spotify from any of my accounts or mother family members and just choose the lounge speaker from Spotify app. Sometimes I'll start it off for children and then go out, it just continues to play.

As for podcasts they're spoken word so I'm not bothered about audio quality.

Ruark are £700 for the R3. John Lewis have an own brand similar for 150-200. Bose is 500 without WiFi.  There are some ugly (as in multiple part plus wire) micro hifi. Something with enough quality to move beyond the tinniness of a small smart speaker.

Might just gamble on the MRx and stream instead of DAB. The radio part isn't for me anyway.

 wintertree 14 Jan 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

I’ve been wondering about a pair of knackered quads and having a go myself.   Probably not a good idea.

One of my more exciting creations was a 40-channel, 350 V D-class amplifier.  For when you really wanted something to respond...

I gave up on broadcast TV after the analog switch off.  The compression was way way too bad, it somehow makes the fourth wall into a barrier.  Online steaming is a lot better in terms of codec choice and bandwidth but dark candlelit scenes etc still show the cracks.  

 Philip 14 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Do you drink a lot of coffee?

 ianstevens 14 Jan 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

> I don't think Spotify offers a lossless service. And podcasts are unlikely to be lossless. So that will be the limiting factor.

Isn't Tidal meant to be the solution to this?

 beh 14 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

Naim mu-so qb?  Ticks a lot of boxes.

In reply to Philip:

No specifics on amps, but I've been happy with kit picked up second hand.  In terms of getting digital music to the amp, I've been very happy with Chromecast audio which plugs into normal RCA input and lets you stream from all kinds of apps (including Spotify).  Put a Google Home mini in the same room and the streaming can be started with voice commands.  Get an appropriate app on the phone, I use hificaster and you can also stream music stored on a local PC/NAS box.

Chromecast audio is officially discontinued but available for about £30 online.  Given the flexibility it offers, absolute bargain.

Post edited at 10:06
 Jmacquarrie 14 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> A pair of used Quad 57s isn’t too out of your budget.

> That hits sound quality and visual appeal. I keep asking myself if it’s finally time to get a pair of quads.  I think it is.o

Depends if you like your speakers to look like a pair of radiators! It's a love them or hate them visually with Quads, if I had the space I'd probably try a pair though. Never had electrostatic speakers, have some Stax electrostatic headphones which I Iike but they're not exactly portable with the energiser.

Post edited at 10:45
 AJM 14 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

I have the previous version (the X300a wireless, which I got reduced when they were clearing stock in preparation for the update) but something like the kef lsx get good reviews and have the right sort of streaming connectivity as far as I understand it. Not entirely sure whether to take your OP to say that 1k is in budget or too much, but that's about what they are.

 Iamgregp 14 Jan 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

> I worked on a motion jpeg video transmission system; mpeg artefacts are rather intrusive. Especially on low light scenes on terrestrial TV.

Ugh... Some of the systems I used at my old job (EVS XT3 servers) run on motion Jpeg.  Awful, awful pictures.  I don't understand how that much data can result in such awful quality (well I do, inefficient coding!).  

 kevin stephens 14 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

How about this

Cambridge Audio CXN V2 Lunar Grey | Network Music Player/Streamer | Richer Sounds

with some active speakers

In reply to Iamgregp:

Each frame is standalone. There's no inter-frame coding like MPEG. Image quality depends on the quality factor you select.

 Iamgregp 14 Jan 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

Yeah I know.  It's essentially 25 still photographs per second. 

 wintertree 14 Jan 2021
In reply to captain paranoia & Iamgregp:

I have a soft spot for MJPEG as I detest the way MPEG style compression gradually gets crapper and re-sharpens every second or two.  Fuzz, fuzz fuzz, fuzz fuzz fuzz, snap/sharp.  Repeat.  

More bandwidth is always the answer.  I was rather put out at the rush to 4k TVs when IMO sticking with HD and upping the bandwidth would achieve the same effect.  Still, things are catching up now.

After another thread (on some vile green vegetable), I've been lamenting the failure of Barnsley's fractal image compression to make it as a coded option for keyframes; that was far more "organic" in terms of the artefacts in introduced for a lot of classes of image.  

Post edited at 12:31
 wintertree 14 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

> Do you drink a lot of coffee?

I can't stand it.  Keeping the diet pepsi supply up during the last lockdown was challenging, so it's probably time to admit defeat and get on to coffee...

In reply to Sam W:

> Chromecast audio is officially discontinued but available for about £30 online.  Given the flexibility it offers, absolute bargain.

£30 would be a bargain. I can only find them for silly prices on auction sites. Where have you seen them at that price?

In reply to Thugitty Jugitty:

> £30 would be a bargain. I can only find them for silly prices on auction sites. Where have you seen them at that price?

Got mine from mymemory.co.uk.  They were showing as in stock this morning, but now sold out again.  You can sign up and they will send an alert when more are available

In reply to Philip:

Thanks for your reply and (mostly) clarification. I am probably being really dimwitted here but how will you stream from Spotify without the "faff" of connecting devices? Are you talking about a hi-fi device with a Spotify interface?
Thanks! 

In reply to Sam W:

Thanks Sam. 

 Iamgregp 14 Jan 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> I have a soft spot for MJPEG as I detest the way MPEG style compression gradually gets crapper and re-sharpens every second or two.  Fuzz, fuzz fuzz, fuzz fuzz fuzz, snap/sharp.  Repeat.  

I know what you mean but as long as you have a decent bitrate H.264 doesn't do this, and you get a much better image for less storage footprint than MJPEG.

Def agree more bandwidth is always good though forget pixels and raster size, what we need is data!

 Philip 14 Jan 2021
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Spotify Connect means I can start playing and just choose device and walk away. Literally sometimes, the songs keep playing for the kids when I go outside. Whatever happens to my phone or tablet doesn't interrupt the streaming unlike with BT. If the phone rings it doesn't pause the music. It also makes it easy to move the music from one room to the next.

Latest Samsung does make audio output device easier to swap with multiple BT, but I still prefer to use connect.

 jethro kiernan 15 Jan 2021
In reply to Philip:

A word of caution about ruark, I have the mr 1, look great and sound great, however the connectivity is appalling, trying to put on 5 mins relaxing music whilst cooking turns into a frustrating exercise in button pushing and waving phones around. I’m sure things have improved with later iterations just be aware if buying second hand .

 tom r 12:40 Fri
In reply to Philip:

old laptop connected to tv and stereo, with wireless keyboard and mouse. If you want to be fancy get a usb dac. Spend most of the money on the speakers.

In reply to tom r:

> old laptop connected to tv and stereo

Or even a Wintel tablet; my £25 secondhand Linx 7 does a good job with MusicBee and Tidal. Its headphone out is pretty good.


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