Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Circling in on a Music System

Okay, well things get clearer by the day. Here is an update on my latest thinking about the music system I am about to purchase. My wonderful wife has given me the green light to purchase part of it during the next credit card cycle, so I have been doing lots of research on the core components. Here's what I've found.
First, the most important component: the speakers. I have found that the speakers I fell in love with during the 1990s, but never got around to buying, are still on the market. Yes, Magneplanar is alive and well, and they even have a set of reasonably price entry-level (well, high-fidelity entry anyway) speakers now. They cost $600 for the pair and they are on my radar. I want to buy a pair in December. Yes, I do.
Next, I found that it takes about 125 watts per channel at 4 ohms to drive those bad boys, so I went in search of an amp that could handle that. On top of that, I want an amp that can handle 4 speakers in case I decide I want a second pair of Maggies. Right now, the NAD C356BEE is at the top of the list, at 220 watts per channel. I need to look into it more, but that's what I'm thinking right now.
Now, how am I going to get digital softcopy music to that amp? The more I've looked into things, the more I like the Squeezebox Touch. It is compact, streams music very well, automatically searches new devices as they are connected, allows me to store play lists, and has digital and analog outputs. The outputs are very important to me. If I want, I can use the DAC internal to the Squeezebox to convert the digital songs to analog for the amp. Or, I can just use the Squeezebox to select and stream songs, and connect it to an external DAC - this is what I plan on doing on a day-to-day basis, as reports are that the Squeezebox DAC isn't the greatest. To top it off the, Squeezebox Touch is only $300. Such a deal.
Now, what external DAC to use? This I'm still researching, but at the moment I'm liking the Cambridge Audio DacMagic. It will automatically upsample recordings to 24/96, which in theory is a good thing. My son Ron is not a fan of upsampling, and I must admit I wish there was a button where I could turn upsampling on and off, but while I'm getting on my feet with the new system, this DAC will work just fine and not break the bank. The DACs that are even nicer and do have that upsample on/off are several times the price, and I don't want to spend that right now. But the Cambridge Audio DacMagic has received some very nice reviews, and I think it will do nicely for now. So on the list it goes - unless I find something better.
So there you have it. Those are the components I plan on buying in the next month or so. They are subject to change...except prolly the Squeezebox and the Maggies. I've got a feelin that those will be mine soon.

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