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A real low-cost, high-value system that works!

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  • A real low-cost, high-value system that works!

    We invited my wife's best friend (well, she's my friend too) to come visit us at the LA Audio Show, mostly just to hang out, but also, because she has been talking about setting up a "nice" system now for a few years. Her kids are all lout of the house and she decided it was time. The budget wasn't terribly big by most audiophile standards, but she was looking "around $1000" for a complete system. Her youngest son had recently bought her a turntable (he'a DJ, not sure what it is yet) and she has a small record collection from many years ago, and a couple hundred CDs. She also wanted to be able to plug in her notebook for Spotify and Pandora, and her TV for movies.

    At the show we tried all sorts of setups for her and in the end, she said to let her think about and she'd decide in a few weeks.

    Today she ordered an all Emotiva system, comprising of:

    Amplifier - TA-100 ($399)
    CD Player - CD-100 ($299)
    Speakers - Airmotiv B1 ($299)
    Subwoofer BasX S8 ($199)

    And from Pangea Audio (Audio Advisor) a set of their lower cost 32" speaker stands ($119)

    Total cost $1315.

    I happened to have all those components here at home still from the show, so after six weeks of battling positioning with the big Tekons (they are really starting to sound nice) I decided to take a break, and set this whole system up here and see how it sounded.

    Only played a couple of CDs (the CD player used as a transport, connected via toslink to the amp) and mostly used either a notebook running tidal or my Questyle QP1 through the line level input. Well less than a half hour tuning the sub and positioning the speakers, I am really surprised at how good this sounds. The sub and sats blend really nicely crossed over at around 90 Hz, and play solid to low 30s. The AMT tweeter is airy and clear and not at all brittle or fatiguing. Mids are fairly transparent and neutral and much more dynamic than you would expect.

    Here the bottom line, I've been listen non-stop for close to four hours. Currently listening to Camera Obscura by Nico on Tidal and loving it. No, it in not as good in any category as what I get out my Burson electronics and either set of Tekton speakers (Lore or DIs), and my iFi stack is better than the built in DAC in every way, but this system simply works and sounds great.

    I can't wait for her gear to arrive. We'll be going over to set it up and make it sound its best. I need to get a photo of her expression when we play the first track for her after getting it all tuned up.

    My end of the audio world is better than ever these days.
    Steve Lefkowicz
    Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
    --------------------------------------------------------
    http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...ounding-system

  • #2
    As always the set up is a big part of the final result. Best of luck to you and your friend.
    (Luck has very little do with a succesful set up though. Use your competence instead.)

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    • #3
      When starting with a much higher budget, it's easy to get good performance. Getting good performance at $1K is a real challenge but can yield impressive results with careful selection. I enjoy listening and reading about systems like this.

      I would love to listen to how good the $300 Emotiva CD player is. And would be interested in comparing it the the Oppo UDP-203 at $550. Steve, you mentioned that your friend wanted to play movies on her TV and I wondered why she did not go with a universal player like the Oppo...
      Reference Room 1, Reference Room 2, Office System

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Joe Pittman View Post
        When starting with a much higher budget, it's easy to get good performance. Getting good performance at $1K is a real challenge but can yield impressive results with careful selection. I enjoy listening and reading about systems like this.

        I would love to listen to how good the $300 Emotiva CD player is. And would be interested in comparing it the the Oppo UDP-203 at $550. Steve, you mentioned that your friend wanted to play movies on her TV and I wondered why she did not go with a universal player like the Oppo...
        She watches via Directv, either on-demand or on HBO. She just wants to play the audio though the system. Not interested in surround either.

        From the bit I've used it, the CD player is okay but nothing special from its analog outputs. However, using either the TOSLINK or coax digital out to a DAC it makes for a very nice transport, pretty much sounding like whatever DAC you plug it in to. Plus it matches the TA-100, they go together. That was important.

        Challenges like this are exactly what I look for and seek to solve. I'll actually be writing about this system and the installation in PF.
        Steve Lefkowicz
        Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
        --------------------------------------------------------
        http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...ounding-system

        Comment


        • #5
          Love hearing about high value budget systems.

          I recently converted a $750 Amazon gift card into a computer system:

          $ 450 Serene Audio Talisman powered speakers
          $ 130 iFi iDSD Nano LE DAC
          $ 50 AudioQuest Jitterbug
          $ 117 Jplay software for Windows (99 Euros)

          The speakers have a subwoofer out so I'm using a Dayton SA70 subwoofer amp and a DIY bucket sub (Ed Schilling design) and the sound is surprisingly engaging.
          Click image for larger version

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          • #6
            Thanks for keeping us grounded Steve!
            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
            ________________________________________

            Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers, cj ART monoblock Amplifiers; cj GAT preamplifier Series 2; Doshi V3.0 phonostage; VPI Vanquish turntable/12-inch 3D tonearm/Lyra Atlas SL, Ortofon A95, Charisma Reference 2, vdh Colibri Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Fuuga cartridges; Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads/Doshi V3.0 tape stage run balanced; Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords. Stillpoint Aperture panels, MPod Magico feet, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC. Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks; Audiodharma Cable Cooker; Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

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            • #7
              More power to you Steve for setting up someone new with a sensible low bucks quality system.

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              • #8
                Update on our friend's system. Two weeks ago installed the basic system and did initial tuning. Lent her speaker cables so I could measure out what would be needed and order correct lengths. Seeing her face light up when she played her first track (I told her to pick something she really liked, so she picked Miles Davis, My Funny Valentine) made it all worth it.

                Last week replaced the speaker cables with Belden 5000UE (purchased unterminated from Blue Jeans Cables, and finished off with decent low cost banana plugs), adjusted the subwoofer again for better blend with the main speakers. The variable phase (0 to 180) on the Emo sub is much nicer than other low cost subs that just have a two position phase switch.

                Tonight we go back to set up her turntable (a new Music Hall mmf1.3).

                Click image for larger version  Name:	julies system 1.jpg Views:	1 Size:	64.8 KB ID:	64490
                (photo before finalizing cables and installing the turntable)

                Note. This was set up to fit within her needs for the room. She was willing to move furniture some, but not too much, and obviously the sub is not in an ideal location, but by keeping it set to enhance the bass just enough but not too much it actually sounds very good. The speakers are out in front of the furniture, and image well enough like this for her to have remarked "Wow, it's like he's in the room!" Plus, with Bluetooth capability, she can stream her Spotify and Pandora accounts from her phone, and there is a USB cable set up so she can easily plug her notebook in when she wants to stream from that.

                The FM section of the Emotiva TA-100 sounds very nice on her favorite jazz station (KKJZ 89.1).

                Might not be taken seriously by people whose USB cable cost more than this whole system, but I see it as a complete success. She seems to really love it.
                Last edited by Steve Lefkowicz; 09-08-2017, 04:48 PM.
                Steve Lefkowicz
                Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
                --------------------------------------------------------
                http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...ounding-system

                Comment

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