Hi-Fi!

MegiMegi Posts: 7,063Member
A topic I just thought I'd bring up, as I've been reviving my own modest hi-fi system (mostly stuff bought in the 90s, plus an 80s tuner and 70s turntable) which has not been getting the use it should. I've recently got a Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 100, which allows me to get very good quality from my digital music files and plug my laptop into the hi-fi system - it's great, the improvement in quality from even mp3s is very noticeable. I can also use it to improve the sound from the cd and minidisc players.

I've also bought a Cambridge Audio Dacmagic XS, which is a small dongle kind of dac/headphone amp thing that you can plug into the USB of a computer, and it bypasses the computer's not very good digital to analog circuitry, replaced with really good stuff, and you can plug your headphones in to listen in high quality.

Another recent purchase is a pair of Philips Fidelio X2 headphones - the most I've ever spent on headphones, but the sound is superb I have to say. Anyhow, spending money I can ill afford, oh dear, I will have to go on an austerity drive now...

At the moment I'm setting up the hi-fi in a small room which will become a "man cave", and also I'll have the guitar gear in there (at least as much of it as will fit - I have too many guitars), and it should make a good practice space.

Anyone else got a bit of a hi-fi bug? :)

Comments

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,952Member, Moderator
    I spent a similar amount on a set of Denon phones. When I tried them I found that the left side didn't have the treble response that the right had. I swapped them round and found that the left side was still rubbish.
    It is my hearing that is shot! Too many years standing in front of bass cabs.
    So now mp3s on the laptop is all the Hi-Fi I need.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,063Member
    Jocko said:

    I spent a similar amount on a set of Denon phones. When I tried them I found that the left side didn't have the treble response that the right had. I swapped them round and found that the left side was still rubbish.
    It is my hearing that is shot! Too many years standing in front of bass cabs.
    So now mp3s on the laptop is all the Hi-Fi I need.

    As long as you can enjoy the music really Jocko :)

    I'm trying not to get to far pulled in to the hi-fi world really - it's a Pandora's box in a way - should I get proper stands for the speakers?, are the interconnects good enough?, should I upgrade the amp?, etc. etc. :D
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,952Member, Moderator
    I have a mate who has Naim equipment and he will spend over £100 on an interconnect cable. He spends more on sending bits off for regular servicing than I have spent on all the gear I have ever bought. The thing is, he has only two ears, like the rest of us.
  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,301Member
    I used to have a hi-fi bug. About 40-45 years ago!

    Must have caught it from my Dad with his Linn Sondek record deck and other high end units.

    I never aspired to those dizzy heights. A more modest Rega Planar deck, a wondeful sounding at reasonable cost NAD 3020 amp and small Linn speakers. The speakers still survive and are part of my present (less than) Hi-Fi system / TV audio setup.

    Still use a NAD amplifier but the old 3020 has been followed, after it's very sad demise, by a NAD 320BEE.

    Like Jocko, my ears have not survived the years in pristine condition and the finer details of sound escape me more now. So that's maybe partly why I haven't had a resurgence of Hi-Fi mania. That and I get lost in all this digital technology.
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,598Member, Moderator
    Having started with a cheap stereo from my paper-round money, the first thing I saved up for when I started work for real was a quality stereo. A friend gave me great advice: "Once you have chosen your system, stop reading hi-fi magazines." I am still using the speakers I bought back then (Celestion Ditton 25). I gave my record deck away about 15 years ago. The other components (Cambridge Audio amp, Aiwa cassette deck) died.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,952Member, Moderator
    Lester said:

    "Once you have chosen your system, stop reading hi-fi magazines."

    Even more importantly is: don't listen to anyone else's set up!

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,063Member
    This is all good stuff, cheers all! My recent hi-fi expenses seem to all be cables - in all cases inexpensive stuff from either ebay or amazon. I've bought:

    - 15 metres of speaker cable, pure copper AWG 14 (not branded posh hi fi stuff, but it works perfectly.
    - a decent quality longer USB (type a to type b connecters) cable for connecting the laptop to the DAC.
    - couple of "coaxial digital cables" for connecting the cd player/minidisc player to the DAC.
    - a fibre optic spdif cable for connecting the minidisc player to the DAC, ordered this morning having discovered it doesn't have a coaxial out, just the optical.
    - a couple of 1.5 metre headphone leads (the one that came with my new headphones is very nice but a bit long and cumbersome when I'm just sat in front of the laptop).
    - some banana plugs for neat and easy connection of the speaker leads, should arrive today with a bit of luck.

    I was doing some listening using the speakers yesterday evening, and was really struck by the realism and quality of the sound - most enjoyable, so I think I should now particularly heed the advice regarding not looking at hi fi magazines, and stick at this point and be happy. In this day and age, one could also mention the perils of the internet - so easy to be persuaded into unnecessary purchases on there. :)

  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,952Member, Moderator
    If YOU like your sound, that is all that matters.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,063Member
    edited September 10
    Jocko said:

    If YOU like your sound, that is all that matters.

    Absolutely - actually, I love the sound, both from the re-vitalized hi fi (no need to upgrade anything there I've decided) and also using the new heaphones with the DACmagic XS and the laptop - at the moment, I'm finding I can easily lose a couple of hours just listening to flac or mp3 music files, even the mp3's sound fabulous. Even Youtube videos sound fabulous, for that matter. For anyone with a lot of music files stored on computer, I would have to recommend getting some sort of DAC (doesn't have to be very expensive, mine wasn't) - it makes a very appreciable and obvious difference.

    And then the Phillips Fidelio X2 headphones are just a wow - an interesting aside on these headphones: There have been reports of bad quality control, imbalance between channels, dull sound, and a batch being sent out that had the earpads glued to the earcups (they are designed to be removable). Although still branded "Philips", the Fidelio headphone business was taken over by Gibson (yes, that Gibson...) a couple of years or so ago. Hmm...

    So I took a calculated risk ordering the headphones at cut price on Amazon - but I definitely got a good pair - the build quality is actually superb, the sound can be breathtaking, and the ear pads are not glued on and can be snapped on and off easily. From what I can tell reading Amazon reviews, the bulk of the problem sets are in the X2/97 version (but you may still get good ones). The ones I bought are X2/00 - and all the recent reviews for these seem very good. And there is a newer X2/HR "high res" version (being sold at £250-odd quid), where I think efforts have been made to get on top of the QC and absolutely ensure there are no issues, but otherwise, I think they are basically the exact same specs as mine - if my X2/00's aren't "high res", then I don't know what is.

    Anyhow, happily, it all worked out, and I love these headphones - if I lost them, I'd have to buy another set...

    image
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,952Member, Moderator
    DACmagic XS. I take it this is just a D/A converter with a quality audio out for headphones?
    https://whathifi.com/cambridge-audio/dacmagic-xs/review
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,063Member
    That's basically it Jocko - it replaces the computer's DAC with a much better one, and incorporates a headphone amp, and output 3.5mm socket also. How they fit this stuff into a little USB dongle I don't know, but it works. I got mine for £57 as "box-opened" but otherwise as new, on ebay.

    For best results, you need to download and install the appropriate driver from the Cambridge Audio website (easy) so you can use it with USB 2.0, and also I have installed "Foobar2000" music player - a really great bit of free software, installed the ASIO driver for that (from the Foobar2000 website) and set the output on Foobar2000 to this driver - this has the benefit of bypassing the usual Windows sound processing/volume control, and thus improving the signal to the DACmagic. Sounds a bit of a faff I know, but it's not too hard if I can do it, and very worthwhile.
  • JockoJocko Posts: 6,952Member, Moderator
    Thanks. Considering I spent most of my working life as a Technophile I have let technology leave me behind over the last 10 years.
    Only thing I have really kept an interest in is electric vehicles.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,063Member
    Jocko said:

    Thanks. Considering I spent most of my working life as a Technophile I have let technology leave me behind over the last 10 years.
    Only thing I have really kept an interest in is electric vehicles.

    It is a strange new world we're in now - I hadn't been keeping up with hi fi tech myself, but finding that I'm now using my laptop for most of my music listening, it did make sense to investigate what the latest things are. It really does seem odd to be buying something as small as the dacmagic xs - I was brought up on hi fi that came in nice chunky boxes covered in buttons and knobs, that you have stacked up on some sort of shelving unit.

    I was wondering if you, with your technical background, were skeptical about the Dacmagic XS, and similar products? I can only say that, without understanding exactly why myself, the difference using the thing, compared to just plugging the headphones straight into the laptop, is night and day - it's certainly not a subtle thing that one could put down to imagination.
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