Apr 9, 201977 views

Best Next Step?

I am looking for further improvements in my system, but am afraid I may be greatly hindered by my powered speakers (Audioengine A5+'s). After getting a Schiit Modi Multibit and a Magni to pair with the Massdrop HD6XX's, I have been craving more from my speakers. The imaging and soundstage is there, but I need just a tad more clarity in the lows and highs with a warmer timbre in the mids before I'm happy again (caught the bug again). Also, I currently run my audio through Tidal and was wondering if anyone had interesting networking ideas (I currently have only used an airport express, but this only has a 3.5mm). Other equipment: Rega RP1 Rega Fono Mini A2D Grado SR 80 Focal Spirit One Shure SE 315
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If you are looking for a clarity boost you could explore the KEF LSX. This is a network/BT capable set of powered speakers with a lot of flexibility in wired and wireless connections. It even has a sub out if you wish to add one down the road. Use the 3.5mm analog in for your TT and rely on DLNA/bluetooth/optical for your digital sources. App controlled and available on ios and android.
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Ah, yes, at this stage I don't mean to separate to the point of having a pre-amp and amp; I just need an integrated amplifier. I just don't want powered speakers to keep me locked in with a system as I am at the moment. I plan on using my Modi Multibit as the DAC, assuming it is better than most on-board DACs in an amp around $400-700. Surprisingly, the Magni headphone amp also functions as a okay pre-amp, but not really needed in the chain. As far as the turntable, I'd likely use my Fono Mini and put it to a a non-phono input, but can I not do that? I overlooked the fact that an on-board DAC tamper with things... Hm.
legallyaudiophile
With the integrated amp options I listed you may or may not prefer the Modi, two of the three of those manufacturers also make DAC's or Integrated DAC's so they should be better than average implementations. It won't hurt to have that portion unused if you still prefer the Modi. Does the network capability of the NAD C368 matter to you at all? It's the most expensive of the three options but also the most flexible as it even includes two expansion bays for adding features. You could go straight analog integrated amp with no BT/Digital functions - the NAD C316 is a cheaper entry at 399. It lacks pre-amp outputs so you would need to stick with fairly efficient speakers (40 watts/channel). I'm also not certain how you would incorporate the headphone amp with this model as you really need some form of output to have everything connected to the integrated amp (or a 2nd set of outputs on your DAC. It isn't ideal but an interconnect splitter would get the job done. I would stick to speakers in excess of 89 db/W if going this route. Let me know what questions you have and I will try to help where I can.
Honestly the most difficult part of upgrading your speakers is going to be your need for an amplifier, and lack of a posted budget. With speakers sound stage has a lot more to do with placement, your A5's are near field and designed to be listened to from a distance of about 3-6 feet. You could look into something like the Klipsch "the Sixes" which have a built in phono preamp, DAC, and bluetooth...but can obviously be used with your multibit as well. They'll offer much better low end and are designed to fill a room with sound, rather than being used like monitors. $600 usd. Edit: Pricing
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I respect Focal immensely as they actually build their own drivers and the vast majority of their speaker components. A lot of speaker manufacturers take off the shelf driver units and focus solely on enclosure and crossover. I'm just not a tremendous fan of the tonality of their tweeters. If I was only doing HT and wanted an extraordinarily clean THX reference volume system Focal would be on my short list. I've never heard anything above the Electra or Aria line but for that money Revel would get my vote. I know a dealer with a standing offer of $1500 off MSRP on those. That model always stuck out to me as several of the reviewers I read bought their sample pair and have held on to them since about 2013 or so.
ElectronicVices
Focal has always been impressive to me due to their design and I appreciate companies that do R&D and manufacturing in house. I feel more like I am buying a product made by someone who is passionate rather than a process created by an entity who is marketing said process to consumers. My audiophile caught me as a teenager when I started getting curious about turntables and I was lucky enough to audition some Focal Utopias, Wilson Audio (not sure of the model anymore, could have been an Alexandria), and McIntosh's flagship system. I think the salesmen were simply trying to get me to come back for more in the future, as they did have more affordable brands like B&W and Monitor, I believe. Main point: they did not fail and a good portion of my salary as a lawyer in the future will be going to audio.