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robert_kc

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  1. robert_kc

    5.1 set up

    Welcome! What genres of music do you listen to? How loud do you listen? I’m not familiar with your existing Wharfedale Diamond series tower speakers – but based on a quick search – apparently they’re nice speakers. What do you like and dislike about your current speakers? If you get bookshelf speakers, where would they be installed? (If speakers are in a bookshelf, the bookshelf cavity can resonate, coloring the sound.) Do you currently have a subwoofer? If not, do you have a spot where a sub could be installed? If you off-load the low frequencies from your main amp and speakers, you will realize greater overall dynamics. Stated differently, with a good subwoofer, you might be satisfied with smaller main speakers. (With that said, if you want uncompromised dynamics for large-scale music and movies, then I suggest getting the largest speaker from a manufacturer’s product line that your room and budget can accommodate. For relatively narrow tower speakers, for Klipsch that’s the RF-7 III.) Is your primary goal to get smaller speakers. Or, better sound quality? How do you define “better sound quality”? I believe that before a person makes changes, they must have goals. Each person must define their unique goals for their hi-fi system (and/or home theater system). Once goals are defined, then a person can start making decisions about what equipment they use to play recorded music and movies in their home, and how to optimize the audio quality of their home hi-fi system. Some people want to impress their friends by being able to “rattle the windows”. Some want to reproduce the rumbling of a buffalo stampede. Some people want their hi-fi system to sound good – to their ears. (I met a guy whose priority is for the sound to “sparkle”.) Some people want to reproduce the natural timbre of orchestral instruments such as a violin, and clarinet, trumpet, timpani, etc. Some people want to play rock music at “ear-bleed” live concert levels. Each consumer has different preferences, and chooses how to spend their money, and how to configure and tune their hi-fi system. There’s no right or wrong goal. The more information you share, the more likely someone can provide useful advice. You can probably learn from existing threads. I suggest that you try some google searches based on the following format: <topic> site:https://community.klipsch.com For example: RP-600M site:https://community.klipsch.com RP 6000F site:https://community.klipsch.com RP 8000F site:https://community.klipsch.com RF-7 III site:https://community.klipsch.com
  2. I have no experience with this HDMI DAC: https://www.essenceelectrostatic.com/product/evolve-ii-4k-hdmi-v2-0-7-1-channel-dac/ Would it meet your needs?
  3. OP: What genre(s) of music do you listen to? When you attend live performances of the music you like, do you experience pinpoint localization of each musician? Is “imaging” or “3D” an attribute of a live performance of the music you listen to? What types of recordings do you play (e.g., LP, CD, DVD-Audio, SACD, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, 24bit/192kHz download, DSD download, etc.)? Have you achieved the imaging that you want via a different home hi-fi system?
  4. Hello Vivek, Most SACD discs are “hybrid SACD”, meaning that they contain 2 layers: a Redbook CD layer, and an SACD layer. (A very few older SACDs have only an SACD layer.) The SACD layer has copy protection features. As a result, you cannot play the SACD layer on a PC, or copy the SACD layer. (You can play the CD layer of a hybrid SACD on a PC, and you can copy the CD layer.) Almost all disc players have copy protection features that affect playing SACDs via outboard DACs. Moreover, there are sometimes bandwidth limitations associated with a disc player connecting an outboard DAC. For example, following is an excerpt from the User Manual of my Oppo UDP-205 universal player: Due to bandwidth limitations, high resolution audio formats such as Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio cannot be sent through the coaxial or optical digital audio output. A reduced resolution version of the same audio track will be output instead. To listen to high resolution audio formats in their best quality, please use the HDMI connection if you have a receiver that handles HDMI audio (see page 12) or use the multi-channel analog outputs if you do not (see page 15). Due to copyright restrictions, SACD audio cannot be sent through the coaxial or optical digital audio output. To listen to SACDs, please use the HDMI or analog audio connections. Due to copyright restrictions and bandwidth limitations, full resolution audio from DVD-Audio discs cannot be sent through the coaxial or optical digital audio output. To listen to DVDAudio in full resolution, please use the HDMI or analog audio connections. The important takeaway is the difference in the capabilities of an HDMI interface vs. TOSLINK and coax. My understanding (bearing in mind that I’m not an expert) is that if you want a universal disc player, and an outboard stand-alone DAC, and you want to play SACD and Blu-ray, you’ll need a DAC with an HDMI interface. (McIntosh has a proprietary solution for their products.) Examples of HDMI DACs that I’m aware of include the Essence Evolve II-4K, which is a HDMI v2.0a Multi-Channel Audio DAC. And, the Bryston BDA-3 External DAC, which includes an HDMI input – but only supports stereo. (I have no experience with these DACs, and I’m not certain of the formats they support. And I have no experience with their sound quality. There are undoubtedly other choices.) (There are a few stereo HDMI “network receivers“ (aka “stereo AVR”) – but they are probably not what you’re looking for, considering that you didn’t like the AVR you had: Onkyo TX-8270, Pioneer SX-S30, Denon DRA-800H, Marantz NR1200. FWIW, Marantz solid-state amps sometimes have a reputation for a more musical sound compared with Onkyo – but I have no personal experience.) OTOH, over the last few years I’ve chosen universal players with built-on “audiophile-grade” DACs (for reasons I’ll discuss below) because I enjoy modern hi-res classical recordings. The relevance of hi-res audio formats (e.g., SACD, Pure Audio Blu-ray, DVD-Audio, 24bit/192kHz download), and audio/video formats (e.g., Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray) depends on the genre of music. That’s why I suggested that “Step 1” should be to shop for recordings. For the classical music that I love, all of the state-of-the-art hi-res audio, and audio/video formats are relevant, because there are modern performances of most classical compositions. And modern performances (i.e., in the last 15 years or so) were almost always captured and mastered in hi-res (i.e., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD). Moreover, most modern classical recordings are made available to the consumer in a hi-res format. Many of my favorite classical recordings feature audio/video and surround-sound, and are only available on a disc (i.e., not available via streaming or download). IME/IMO the experience provided by Blu-ray is vastly superior to the experience of listening to a CD. Blu-ray audio/video is indispensable for visual art forms such as opera and ballet, and IMO very enjoyable for orchestral music - i.e., watching the conductor and musicians, and seeing the symphony hall. Blu-ray excels at conveying the beauty of this concert hall: https://www.musikverein.at/en/der-grosse-musikvereinssaal (And believe it or not, there are classical musicians who are enjoyable to watch. I suggest watching a YouTube video of Khatia Buniatishvili playing piano., and Elīna Garanča and Anna Netrebko sing. Now imagine that in Blu-ray quality.) There have been a lot of advances since the CD became available 37 years ago. Each audiophile must decide whether these advances are relevant to the music they love. For me the decision is clear: I want Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray recordings of the music I love. My second choices are Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACD that feature surround-sound. My third choice is hi-res (e.g., 24bit/192kHz) stereo download. IMO a classical music lover would be foolish to buy a player that only plays the 30+ year-old Redbook CD format, given the wealth of modern hi-res recordings available (including audio/video and multi-channel recordings). I listen to an entire symphony or opera at a time, so “convenient access” and “random shuffle” aren’t important features for me. (I don’t listen to the first movement of Beethoven Symphony 2, followed by the fourth movement of Mahler Symphony 9, followed by …) Loading a disc into the tray once every hour or so is not an inconvenience for me. The process of dropping a disc into the tray is simple, and reliable, and hassle-free (e.g., no apps freezing). Therefore, I require a “universal player” that will play ALL audio and audio/video formats: Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, SACD, 24bit/192kHz download, DVD, and CD. The Oppo UDP-205 has top-of-the-line DACs built-in, and I’m happy with its performance. IME/IMO, top-quality modern hi-res classical recordings played via my Oppo UDP-205 (and BDP-105 and BDP-95) sound fabulous when played via my tube amps and Klipsch speakers. Because the Oppo UDP-205 is connected to an HDTV, during playback useful information is displayed on the screen, such as volume level, track #, etc. (And when playing an opera on Blu-ray, the libretto can be displayed on the screen, which is extremely useful.) The HDTV screen can easily be “blanked” (i.e., black) via the “Pure Audio” button on the Oppo’s remote control. (I think of this feature like a “video mute” button.) And the UDP-205 has a parameter for volume setting upon power-on (i.e., either a user specified fixed value, or the last value). This feature eliminates the possibility of accidentally having the volume set extremely loud when the unit is turned on. (This is important if you alternate between classical and pop recordings, because pop recordings are typically mastered MUCH louder than the average volume level in classical recordings.) And there is a parameter setting for the maximum volume level. The UDP-205’s implementation of volume control is more convenient IMO than trying to guess from the listening chair where the volume control is set on a pre-amp. And IMO being able to see information about the recording (e.g., track #) on the HDTV screen is easier than trying to see the small display on a CD player. Because I enjoy classical orchestral music, opera, and ballet Blu-ray audio/video recordings, I see no distinction between a “hi-fi system” and a “home theater system”. The Oppo units provide capabilities that are essential to me: analog audio connections (stereo, 2.1, 5.1, 7.1) for my vintage tube amps and subwoofers, and the Oppo units provide variable audio output. And ultra HD video. Maybe someday all classical recordings will be available via streaming and download, including hi-res video and surround-sound audio. And maybe someday streaming and download services will provide the best available quality. Today, Blu-ray discs, and the Oppo UDP-205, suit my needs best. However, I recognize that my tastes in music, and my audio/video requirements are unique. Some people listen exclusively to vintage audio-only recordings. For music that was recorded decades ago, the audio quality is limited by decades-old recording technology. In some cases, a high-quality analog master tape from decades ago has been digitized at hi-res with good results, and made available as an SACD, or hi-res download. Similarly, some older movies were recorded on large-format film, and can be digitized and delivered on Blu-ray with good results. OTOH, early digital recordings (audio and video) might not benefit as much from re-mastering – but that’s a generalization – and I’m not an expert on mastering recordings. My experience is that modern recordings (audio and video) generally have the best audio and video quality. If all of the music you like is available as a download in the best available audio quality (whether that’s 16bit/44.1kHz or 24bit/192kHz or DSD), then you may not need a disc player. I suggest that you search HDTracks. com for downloads. Some HDTracks downloads are “CD quality” (16bit/44.1kHz), and some are higher resolution (e.g., 24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz). Provenance of the recording is important – garbage-in/garbage-out - you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear – in other words a poor-quality recording can’t be magically transformed just by delivering it in a hi-res container. (If you pour a gallon of milk into a 55-gallon drum, it’s still only a gallon of milk.) Some people employ “hacking” to get around the copy protections on SACDs. You can google this topic for details. (As far as I’m concerned, this is a somewhat complex process that appeals to PC hobbyists.) Reportedly the process to copy Blu-ray discs is not as complex. Copying all disc types (CD, SACD, Blu-ray) requires an investment of time and money by the audiophile. Some think the effort is worth it, some don’t. (Some people like to choose individual songs, and build playlists, and don’t want to load a different disc for each 3-minute song, and value having all music on NAS.) My understanding – but I have no experience - is that once hi-res files are loaded on NAS (via download or copying discs), then an appropriate DAC can play any hi-res format. That DAC can be stand-alone, or built into another appliance, such as a disc player, pre-amp, or integrated amp. (Some like a stand-alone DAC for upgrade flexibility, some like all-in-one approach with a DAC built into an integrated amp or receiver, thereby minimizing the number of components, and interconnect cables, and associated integration efforts.) I recognize that people enjoy the hobby of hi-fi differently. I respect the fact that some people enjoy the process of “hacking” software, and copying discs, and building a system based on NAS storage. However, this is not how I choose to spend my time. To each their own. As I said earlier, I suggest these steps: Shop for recordings, and determine which formats for consumer deliverables are relevant to the music that you like. (The audio quality of your hi-fi system will be limited by the quality of the recordings, so I suggest that you focus a lot of your effort on seeking the best quality recordings for the music you like.) Once you know which recording formats must be supported, then you can decide on a compatible player(s). (For example, you might want a turntable for LPs, a universal disc player, and a way to play internet radio and Spotify Premium.) Once you’ve selected a player(s), then you can decide on an amp that is a good match for the player(s). Because your Klipsch Forte III are relatively sensitive (99dB), you won’t need a lot of power. Different audiophiles will reach different conclusions based on the music they like, their budget, and their preferences: The Oppo UDP-205 universal player is the best solution for me. I also own BDP-105 and BDP-95, which are good products that play all disc types except Ultra HD Blu-ray. (Unfortunately, Oppo no longer manufactures products. If you can buy a used UDP-205, BDP-105 or BDP-95 for a reasonable price, that’s something you might consider.) Another audiophile who wants a universal disc player, and needs analog audio connections for stereo (i.e., 2 channel) only, might choose a Sony ES UBP-X1100ES player (or older and cheaper UBP-X1000ES). (I have no experience with this player, but have read positive comments on another forum about its audio quality. Given that you aren’t interested in multi-channel, the Sony ES UBP-X1100ES may be a good choice, if you want the most flexibility in choosing disc formats. You’d need a pre-amp (or integrated amp) for a volume control, subwoofer connection, and tone controls.) Another audiophile might build a solution around the Essence Evolve II-4K, which is a HDMI v2.0a Multi-Channel Audio DAC. Or, the Bryston BDA-3 External DAC, which includes an HDMI input, but is stereo only. I don't know if there are other stand-alone DACs that support HDMI. (I have no experience with these DACs, and I’m not certain of the formats they support. And I have no experience with their sound quality.) Another audiophile who only wants to play CDs (no SACD or Blu-ray), plus stream hi-res files from NAS, and support services like Spotify Premium, might choose something like the Marantz ND8006 CD player / music streamer, and employ its variable analog audio output to directly drive a power amp. This player also has (2) optical inputs, plus coaxial and USB type B digital inputs. (I have no experience with this player.) Another audiophile who only wants to stream from NAS and services like Spotify Premium, might choose something like Bluesound Node 2i, or Bluesound Vault 2i which provides a CD ripper and 2TB of storage. These units have a mono RCA subwoofer output. (I have no experience with this player.) John Q. Public (and some audiophiles) will choose an AVR, whether stereo or multi-channel, that has HDMI inputs, and can support all formats. I’m certain there are many other types of solutions. The options can be bewildering. Regarding amps, if you get a Luxman CL-38uC pre-amp, or LX-380 integrated amp, I’ll be jealous. I’ve never owned any of the Luxman tube gear. (I collect US tube amps.) IMO these Luxman units are very handsome, and have a good reputation. FWIW, I also think the McIntosh C22 and C70 are very handsome pre-amps that could be paired with an MC275. Is McIntosh gear available in India? Any of these products would be an investment that is “heirloom quality”, and be a great complement to your Klipsch Forte III. (Both manufacturers also offer solid-state amps.) FWIW, following are links to a few of my other posts that might be relevant for someone who is new to this discussion: I’ll stop rambling for now. Tonight, I’m attending the first performance of my local symphony’s 2019/2020 season, and I need to prepare to attend dinner with family and friends, and then the concert. I’m looking forward to it. I hope this helps, rather than confuses. Hopefully others will join the conversation, and share their experience. Some people are far more knowledgeable than me about stand-alone DACs, and NAS-based solutions.
  5. Hello Vivek, Of course, the most important thing is the music. As I mentioned in one of your other threads, I suggest that you first shop for recordings, and determine which formats for consumer deliverables are relevant to the music that you like: LP? Downloaded hi-res PCM (e.g., 24bit/192kHz or 24bit/96kHz FLAC from HDTracks.com, or prestomusic.com/classical/formats/download, etc.)? Downloaded hi-res DSD (e.g., nativedsd.com, or acousticsounds.com/superhirez, etc.)? CD? DVD (e.g., concert videos)? DVD-Audio (i.e., older "better-than-CD-quality" audio recordings)? SACD (newer hi-res recordings)? Pure Audio Blu-ray (i.e., newer hi-res audio-only disc – i.e., no video)? Blu-ray (e.g., concert videos)? Ultra HD Blu-ray (e.g., state-of-the-art concert videos)? Will you play music directly from the disc (e.g., CD, SACD, Pure Audio Blu-ray), or will you copy all music to network-attached-storage ("NAS"), and play music files from NAS? (Copying the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD reportedly requires arcane “hacking” procedures. Copying Blu-ray reportedly can be done with the right hardware and software.) Spotify Premium, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz, etc.? Support for MQA? Other? Here’s my earlier long ramble about whether various formats are relevant for a given genre: https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/186021-klipsch-rf-7-iii-vs-forte-iii/&do=findComment&comment=2414963 If you’re not interested in video (e.g., concert videos), or surround-sound, or LPs, then your needs are simpler. Is all of the music you like available via streaming (e.g., Spotify Premium, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz), and/or hi-res downloads (e.g., HDTracks)? Or, are some recordings that you like only available on discs (e.g., CD or SACD or Blu-ray or LP)? If some recordings are only available on discs, are you willing to copy the discs to NAS, or will you want to drop a disc into a tray and hit the PLAY button? Once you know which recording formats must be supported, then you can decide on a compatible player. For example: A universal disc player (i.e., an appliance that plays discs including Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, SACD, DVD-Audio, DVD, CD, etc.), or “CD only” player, and/or Network streamer that can play hi-res files from NAS (e.g., downloaded hi-res files), and play Spotify Premium, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz, etc. Are you keeping your R-115 SW subwoofer? If so, you will want a player, or pre-amp, or integrated amp that has a configurable subwoofer crossover, and analog line-level RCA subwoofer output. Once you’ve selected a player, then you can decide on an amp that is a good match for the player. For example, does the player have good quality built-in DACs? An external (i.e., outboard) DAC with coax and TOSLINK interfaces probably can’t play the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD disc, and might not be able to play uncompromised audio quality from a Pure Audio Blu-ray discs without downgrading the audio bit rate – assuming that you’re playing directly from the disc. (OTOH, if you first copy such discs to NAS, you might be able to play all formats from the NAS across ethernet to a DAC – however I have no experience with this type of implementation.) Does the player have built-in volume control, in which case you might be able to connect it directly to a power amp? What interfaces does the player provide (e.g., analog, HDMI, TOSLINK, coax, etc.)? A player whose built-in DACs are available to other sources (e.g., equipped with a TOSLINK and/or coax and/or HDMI input) can be useful. (For example, for one of my hi-fi systems, I connect my HDTV via TOSLINK to an input on my Oppo UDP-205 universal player, so that I can play the audio from TV programs on my hi-fi system. In another system, I connect a Chromecast Audio via TOSLINK to an input on my Oppo UDP-205 universal player in order to play internet radio such as kusc.org.) As I’ve mentioned before, I suggest that you consider a solution that includes tone controls, so that you can fine-tune your Forte III to your room, and your preferences. (I.e., “salt and pepper to taste” – in other words, adjust bass and treble to suit your preferences.) If an amp that you’re interested in doesn’t have tone controls, can you buy a Schiit Loki in India? (Many modern tube integrated amps such as Primaluna, Cary Audio, Line Magnetic, Rogue Audio, and Quicksilver don’t have tone controls. I have no experience with modern tube amps – rather, my experience is with made-in-the-USA vintage tube amps.) I recently obtained a Schiit Loki in order to tame high frequencies when driving my Klipsch Palladium via my Oppo UDP-205 directly connected to my McIntosh MC240 power amp (i.e., no preamp). The Loki was MUCH less expensive than buying a McIntosh preamp (just to get a treble control). I like the fact that the Loki does not digitize the audio. Which brands of players and amps have service centers in Chandigarh? Are there technicians in Chandigarh who can work on tube amps? I think serviceability should be a consideration when choosing electronics. I’m a fan of vintage tube amps, however, to be honest they can require maintenance. A modern tube amp would probably only need tubes replaced periodically (perhaps every few years), which the consumer can do. A solid-state amp will likely require the least maintenance. If you want a tube amp, a few designs can accommodate several different output tubes, e.g., EL34, KT88, and 6L6GC. Each different output tube would provide different sound quality, and provide you the opportunity to “tube roll” in order to optimize the audio quality to suit your taste. Perhaps if you provide more information about the following, forum members might be able to offer specific advice: What recording formats are you interested in supporting? What types of players are you considering (e.g., universal disc player, or “CD only” player, or network streamer, etc.)? What players and amps are sold and serviced in India? You’ve obviously given this careful thought. I’ll be interested in learning from your experience. I hope that your new Forte III arrive safely from Hope, Arkansas, USA. I’m looking forward to pictures of your Forte III when you have them installed. Please keep us posted. Robert
  6. FWIW, based on the music I listen to (classical), I have concerns about outboard DACs (i.e., DACs that are separate from the player or source component). I listen almost exclusively to hi-res recordings such as SACD and various Blu-ray formats. Due to copyright protections and/or bandwidth limitations of TOSLINK and coax interfaces, most outboard DACs can’t play the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD disc, or the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track of a Blu-ray disc without downgrading the audio. (Copying discs to NAS is a different scenario, and has its own issues.) An HDMI DAC might be needed to play SACD and Blu-ray discs – and HDMI DACs are rare. (McIntosh’s proprietary MCT interface enables their outboard DACs to play the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD.) And, there are very few outboard DACs that provide 5.1 analog audio connections. (Surround-sound is common for modern classical recordings, and IMO surround-sound can be beneficial in a large room.) The Oppo UDP-205 is a universal player that has “audiophile-grade” DACs and analog circuitry built-in, supporting stereo, 2.1, 5.1, and 7.1 analog audio connections. The Oppo UDP-205 has ESS Technology ES9038PRO DACs, which I understand to be top-of-the-line. And because these DACs are built into the Oppo UDP-205, the UDP-205 doesn’t have the limitations often associated with an outboard DAC’s TOSLINK or coax cable interface. Bottom line: I have yet to hear any reason why there would be any advantage to using an outboard DAC with an Oppo UDP-205. As a result, I use the UDP-205’s internal DACs. Switching gears to Schiit products, I am satisfied with my Schiit Loki based on owning it for a week. (All I needed was the ability to attenuate the treble when using my MC240 power amp, and the Loki cost $150 vs. thousands of dollars for a matching McIntosh pre-amp.) I would consider Schiit for a future purchase. If the Schiit FREYA S meets your needs, I think it’s worth considering. My only reservation is that I need a flashlight and strong reading glasses to see the front panel controls of my Schiit Loki in a dimly lit listening room. Will you be able to see the Freya’s volume setting from your listening chair? (I have no experience with Schiit’s remote control units.) With an Oppo UDP-205, “pre-amp functionality” such as variable output (but not tone controls) is built-in. In addition to playing every type of audio and video disc and downloaded audio file, my Oppo UDP-205 and BDP-105 provide a TOSLINK input that enables my HDTV to utilize the Oppo’s ESS Technology ES9038PRO DACs. Or, I can connect a Chromecast Audio via TOSLINK to my UDP-205 and BDP-105 for streaming services such as Tunein radio. (I wish the UDP-205 and BDP-105 had 2 TOSLINK inputs.) I had Spotify Premium and Tidal, but cancelled them because IMO the experience that they provide pales in comparison with Blu-ray. In 4 of my 5 hi-fi systems, an Oppo player is the front end, because of its ability to play all digital audio and video formats and interface with my vintage tube amps. (In my living room system, I can connect an Oppo BDP-105 directly to two 1950s era McIntosh MC30 power amps, plus a subwoofer. Sounds fabulous.) And because the Oppo UDP-205 is connected to an HDTV, during playback useful information is displayed on the screen, such as volume level, track #, etc. (And when playing an opera on Blu-ray, the libretto can be displayed on the screen, which is extremely useful.) The HDTV screen can easily be “blanked” (i.e., black) via the “Pure Audio” button on the Oppo’s remote control. (I think of this feature like a “video mute” button.) And the UDP-205 has a parameter for volume setting upon power-on (i.e., either a user specified fixed value, or the last value). This feature eliminates the possibility of accidentally having the volume set extremely loud when the unit is turned on. (This is important if you alternate between classical and pop recordings, because pop recordings are typically mastered MUCH louder than the average volume level in classical recordings.) And there is a parameter setting for the maximum volume level. The UDP-205’s implementation of volume control is more convenient IMO than trying to guess from the listening chair where the volume control is set on a pre-amp. And IMO being able to see information about the recording (e.g., track #) on the HDTV screen is easier than trying to see the small display on a CD player. FWIW, I encourage people to consider source components that provide the maximum flexibility in choosing recordings that employ newer technologies (e.g., Blu-ray, SACD), so that current and future needs are accommodated. Here’s my understanding of two “universal players”: My choice is the Oppo UDP-205, connected to an integrated amp (or pre-amp/power amp) with tone controls. Or, connect a UDP-205 directly to a power amp, and if tone controls are needed, use a Schiit Loki. (The Oppo BDP-105 is a good unit if Ultra HD Blu-ray isn’t a requirement.) Unfortunately, Oppo no longer manufactures products. If someone else’s requirements do NOT include surround-sound, or a line-level subwoofer connection, then I’d consider a Sony UBP-X1100ES universal player (or older and cheaper UBP-X1000ES), and I’d connect an integrated amp (or pre-amp/power amp), or a Schiit Freya remote volume control and a power amp. (The Sony UBP-X1100ES doesn’t have a volume control.) Bottom line, sometimes a pre-amp isn’t needed. IMO, it would be wise to first know what player you’ll use before deciding if a pre-amp is needed. Unless someone is 100% positive that they only want to play CDs (i.e., no SACDs, Blu-ray, downloaded hi-res files), FWIW I think that investing in a “CD-only player” is myopic. With that said, I recognize that each audiophile’s needs are different. Different people have different tastes in music – and the genre of music determines whether modern hi-res recordings are relevant. And, of course, different people have different budgets. I’m afraid I can’t answer which volume control mechanism is best for low level listening. Perhaps someone else can share their experience. And, I think that’s where a manufacturer’s or retailer’s liberal return policy comes into play. Please keep us posted. I’m interested in learning from your experience.
  7. I’m afraid I can’t answer your question directly. I collect vintage tube amps. Two of my systems are equipped with McIntosh MX110Z – but I’m certain that’s not what you’re looking for. I’m wondering if you’ve considered one of the Schiit preamps. I swore I’d never buy one of their products because of their sophomoric company name. However, I needed to add tone controls to my McIntosh MC240 in my TV room, because it was too bright when driven directly by my Oppo UDP-205. (My MC225 in the same system sounds good when driven directly by my UDP-205.) Rather than spend a LOT of money to buy a McIntosh tube preamp just for the treble control, I bought a Schiit Loki analog tone control unit, and it does a good job of attenuating the high frequencies, and I’m now enjoying my MC240. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about the Schiit preamps. They offer several preamps, including active, passive, tube, and solid-state. Some have a “128-step relay-switched stepped attenuator volume control”. I have no idea if this would meet your needs. Schiit offers a 15-day trial period, with restocking fee. Your thoughts? Have you considered a CD player with variable output, and eliminating the preamp? (My Oppo UDP-205, BDP-105, and BDP-95 have variable output, and unless I need tone controls, I don’t need a preamp.) I have no experience with Marantz players, but I’m aware that some of their units have variable output, such as the Marantz ND8006 CD player / music streamer. This is not my cup of tea, because it doesn’t play any of the hi-res disc formats, but it might be of interest to you. Your thoughts?
  8. What genres of music do you listen to? What recording formats do you currently use? Streaming (e.g., Spotify Premium) LP CD HDCD SACD Pure Audio Blu-ray 24bit/192kHz download DSD download Downloaded compressed files Files ripped to NAS DVD-Audio DVD Blu-ray Ultra HD Blu-ray Stereo only? Multi-channel (e.g., 5.1)? Do you want audio only, or the ability to play audio/video recordings such as concert videos and Hollywood movies? What formats do you want to be able to play in the future? What player do you currently have? (For example, turntable, CD player, universal player, network streamer, PC, etc.) Do you currently use an outboard DAC? Do you think that you want tone controls, or not? (There’s more than one way to skin the cat in terms of tone controls.) Do you require a remote volume control? The reason I’m asking these questions is that if you listen to digital recordings, you might not need a preamp. Some appliances (e.g., universal player, network streamer) have a variable output, and therefore effectively have a preamp built in. OTOH, if you play LPs, you’ll need a suitable preamp. Bottom line, your requirements for a pre-amp depend on what player(s) you will use. What player(s) you need depends on which recording formats that you need to be able to play, which largely depends on the genres of music you want to be able listen to – now and in the future.
  9. Yes, I own Palladium P-37F (paired with P-312W subwooofer), and RF-7II (paired with R-115SW, and SVS SB16-Ultra subwooofers).
  10. There is an existing thread that compares RF-7III and Palladium. Here's my post in that thread about RF-7II vs. Palladium:
  11. I have no experience with the Sony UBP-X1100ES, or the older model UBP--X1000ES. (I own Oppo universal players: UDP205 x 2, BDP-105, BDP-95.) Note that these Sony units have analog audio connections for only 2 channels (i.e., they provide analog audio RCA connections for stereo, but not 5.1 or 7.1). FYI, if the UBP-X1000ES meets you needs, they are routinely available on eBay as "manufacturer refurbished" for $280. I have no affiliation. Just FYI ...
  12. Hello Vivek, I suggest that you shop for recordings before you shop for equipment. That way you will know which recording formats your equipment must support. (Sorry if I’m beating this issue to death. It’s not my intent to sound preachy. This might sound like a simple concept, however I think some people skip the important first step: the music. I’m mystified when some hi-fi hobbyists spend a lot of time and money on equipment, and don’t consider modern recording formats.) This afternoon I watched/listened to Sibelius Symphony 4 via this Blu-ray audio/video disc, and the experience was fabulous via my state-of-the-art Oppo UDP-205 universal player, vintage tube amps, Klipsch RF-7II for left, center, and right, a single RF-7 rear speaker, and two powered subwoofers. (This afternoon I listened via two stereo amps equipped with 6L6GC: a Scott 296 driving the main left & right speakers, and an Inspire Fire Bottle single-ended amp driving the center and single rear speaker.) Plasma HDTV. Yesterday I ordered the following Blu-ray audio/video discs from Amazon.com: For classical music, Blu-ray is my favorite format, and I own a number of wonderful Blu-ray recordings. Blu-ray box sets (e.g., all symphonies by a composer) are a good value. Here’s a relevant post regarding classical Blu-ray recordings: SACD is my second choice. I own many classical SACDs. Based on the playlist you posted, I understand that these recordings may not be of interest to you. I just want to make the point that recording technology has come a long way since the CD was introduced to the marketplace more than 30 years ago – i.e., high-definition video, surround-sound, and hi-res audio. I have no experience with the music you like. Looking at your play list, I did a few quick searches and found the following Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, DVD, SACD, and hi-res downloads (24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz). These are just a few examples that I found in a few minutes by searching amazon.com and hdtracks.com. I know nothing about the following recordings. I’m not recommending these recordings – this music is not my cup of tea. Moreover, I know nothing about the audio quality of these recordings – garbage-in/garbage-out – these recordings may or may not have high quality audio based on how the recording was originally captured, and how it was mastered. Rather, my point is that the relevance of various recording formats other than CD depends on music genre – and when the recording was made. (Candidly, for some genres, CD is the best audio quality that’s available.) Billy Joel: Live at Shea Stadium Blu-ray Billy Joel - Live From the River of Dreams DVD Billy Joel | The Stranger SACD Billy Joel | Glass Houses SACD Billy Joel: 52nd Street 40th Anniversary (Hybrid-SACD) Import HIRES 96kHz/24bit Deluxe Edition Remastered Special Packaging 2018 Release Date 11/2/18 The Essential Billy Joel 24bit/96kHz FLAC download (HDTracks.com) Lionel Ritchie | Just for You SACD Lionel Ritchie (There are at least 6 albums on HDTracks in 24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz) Legend: The Best Of Bob Marley And The Wailers Pure Audio Blu-ray Bob Marley & The Wailers: Exodus - Live at the Rainbow DVD Bob Marley & the Wailers (There are several hi-res downloads available from HDTracks.) Weekend On The Rocks [live CD & DVD] by Dave Matthews (2005-11-29) DVD Michael Bolton: Live at the Royal Albert Hall Blu-ray Michael Bolton - My Secret Passion / Donizetti, Puccini, Massenet, Verdi DVD Again, these are just a few examples that I found in a few minutes by searching amazon.com and hdtracks.com. The issue is whether you want to invest in equipment that will play recordings such as these. How important is audio quality vs. convenience? What sources for recordings are available to you in India? Amazon.com? HDTracks.com? $64k question: For the music that you like, are there enough recordings in hi-res audio formats, and audio/video formats to justify investing in a compatible player? Perhaps you might start a thread asking for recommendations for Blu-ray, SACD, and hi-res downloads for the music you like. If you’re interested in audio/video recordings, you’ll need a universal disc player. (IME, the classical audio/video recordings I like are not available via streaming.) OTOH, if you’re not interested in video, and the music you like is available as a hi-res (or at least 16bit/44.1kHz) download (vs. SACD or Pure Audio Blu-ray disc), you may not need a disc player – you might be satisfied with a “network player” or “music streamer” that plays hi-res files from local NAS, plus Spotify Premium. P.S. Forte III in Distressed Oak looks great. P.P.S. I have no experience with Line Magnetic tube amps. They look very interesting. FWIW, I generally prefer 6L6GC and EL34 – but everyone has different tastes - and the important issue is synergy between amp and speakers.
  13. Hello Vivek, FWIW, I think that you're taking a very sensible approach. Following are a few of my quick thoughts. I have no experience with “network streamers”. I have Chromecast Audio ($35US) gizmos installed in several of my hi-fi systems, and I use them for the rare occasions when I want to listen to internet radio (e.g., kusc.org, which is an excellent commercial-free classical radio station). I tried Spotify Premium and Tidal for a while, and found that I rarely used them, so I cancelled. I can control Chromecast Audio via an Android tablet (e.g., Tunein radio app, apps for Spotify and Tidal, Hi-Fi Cast, etc.). I can also cast from a Chrome browser on my Windows 10 PC. As you described, the apps function as a remote control only – the audio stream does not “hairpin” through the tablet or PC. I wouldn’t assume that an external DAC is necessarily better - unless you want to have “DAC rolling” as a hobby (i.e., experimenting with different DACs). (My Oppo UDP-205 universal player has two ESS Technology ES9038PRO DACs built in. These are state-of-the-art DACs. No one has been able to explain why using an external DAC would be better. In fact, there are limitations to TOSLINK and coax interfaces (e.g., playing the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD, and playing uncompromised (i.e., not downgraded) DTS HD MA audio). The Oppo’s internal DACs can handle more “hi-res” formats than most external DACs – and these hi-res formats are important to me based on the music I enjoy.) My limited understanding is that most network streamers have a DAC built in, and often these appliances allow their DAC to be used by other sources. Based on your needs, is an external DAC beneficial – or not? And I wouldn’t assume that having a separate preamp and power amp is necessarily better. Because Klipsch speakers don’t need a lot of power, a separate power amp isn’t necessarily beneficial, vs. an integrated amp. (OTOH, separates give you more flexibility for future upgrades.) As I said before, I suggest that you get an amplifier with tone controls. Moreover, you may not need a pre-amp at all, if you acquire a network streamer with remote volume control - and if you don’t want tone controls. (I can connect 1950s era McIntosh MC30 tube power amps directly to an Oppo UDP-205, and as long as I don’t need to adjust the tonal balance via tone controls, it works great. I use the UDP-205’s remote volume control. OTOH, I find KT88s to be too bright sounding with Klipsch speakers, so I’ll always use a pre-amp with tone controls when I use a KT88 amp such as my McIntosh MC275 or Scott LK150.) If you buy a disc player that only plays CDs, you will limit your options for the types of discs you can play to one choice: the 30+ year-old CD. OTOH, if you buy a “universal player” (e.g., Sony UBP-X1100ES), then you will have the flexibility to play all types of discs (i.e., CD, SACD, Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, DVD, DVD-Audio, etc.). Are there any Blu-ray or DVD concert videos you’re interested in? https://concertsondvd.com/collections/blueray-concerts Any SACDs? Are there any DVD-Audio discs you’re interested in? (Even though DVD and DVD-Audio are older formats, some recordings are only available in these formats.) For the classical music I like, Blu-ray audio/video is by far my favorite way to enjoy music. (For example, there are 4 different modern Blu-ray box sets of all Beethoven symphonies, featuring excellent video and DTS HD MA audio. And many other classical concerts are available on Blu-ray, plus many opera and ballet Blu-ray recordings.) What about Hollywood and Bollywood movies? To me, there is no difference between a “hi-fi” system and a “home theater” system. For streaming, some people think MQA is the “cat’s pajamas” – whereas others think it’s “snake oil”. My dog’s not in that fight. I believe that the $64k question is this: For the music (and movies) that you like, which formats are relevant? I suggest that you investigate for the music genres you like what recordings are available on Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, SACD, DVD, DVD-Audio, hi-res downloads (e.g., HD Tracks) – in addition to CDs and streaming. I suggest that you buy appliance(s) that play the music (and movies) that you like, and I suggest that try to keep your options open for the future. There is a bewildering array of options for bundling vs. unbundling hi-fi components. For example, Marantz claims that their “Marantz ND8006 is the complete digital music source player that delivers world-class sound from unlimited music sources, including online streaming services, HEOS multi-room technology, locally stored high-resolution audio files, CD audio playback, Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth and more.” Does it play SACDs (i.e., the SACD layer of a hybrid SACD, not the CD layer)? Does it play Pure Audio Blu-ray discs? Blu-ray audio/video discs? Ultra HD Blu-ray? For the music I like, this unit is most definitely NOT capable of playing all relevant formats. Same question for Bluesound products. OTOH, for the music you like, perhaps the capabilities provided by one of these products might be adequate. I’ll be interested in reading about what you learn, and what you decide. Please keep us posted. And post some pics of the Forte III once installed. 😊 Good luck.
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