markusp

I am no longer an audiophile - an interesting couple of weeks

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The last two weeks have been a bit of an eye opener to me and I thought I would share my experiences, however misguided they may be.

I've been into this hobby for 20 something years and have had some rather nice kit from the likes of Rega, Naim, Densen, Linn, Sugden, Audio Note, Quad, McIntosh to name but a few and always strived for bigger and better. I went up and down the Naim and Linn ladders, enjoyed tubes, went high power partnered with Martin Logans and Magnepans, went high-ish efficiency with Audio Note and Snell and embraced both vinyl and digital (music server / Dac) equally.

Today, my current main system consists of an Almarro A318 paired with refreshed / upgraded Snell JII speakers and fed by both a mac mini / Jolida Glass FX tube Dac pairing and a heavy plinthed Lenco 78 with RB300 through an EAR 834P phono. All interconnects are Audio Note and speaker wire is transparent cable. Room has been extensively treated and while I enjoy the sound of this system greatly, it resides in the basement and I find myself hating the isolation to simply listen to music.

My second system resides in an open concept loft area of the house and consists of a Sugden A21ai Series II paired with a wonderful set of Tannoy Stirling HWs. A heavy plinthed Lenco 75 feeds the built in phono of the Sugden while until recently, another mac mini / Jolida Glass FX fed the digital side (Dac died a few weeks prior to Christmas). As mentioned, the room is open concept and lacks the extensive room treatments of my dedicated basement room but it offers wonderful light and views from a plethora of windows located 5m behind the speakers and the plush furnishings offer "some" absorption. I love sitting here listening to tunes but found this system far less enjoyable than the one I have downstairs. I've swapped both systems entirely but the Almarro / Snell pairing just doesn't deliver the same sonics in the loft as they do downstairs. As such, I found myself listening to less and less music over the year to the point where I contemplated selling this system entirely and putting the funds elsewhere.

Two things over the past two weeks have completely transformed the way I enjoy and listen to music. The first is TIDAL and the second is the little Sony HAP-S1. Since my Jolida DAC died, I decided to find a replacement and to simplify the digital side of my system by getting rid of the mac mini / dac / network side of the equation and try an all-in-one digital solution. I tried out the higher end HAP-Z1es for a couple of weeks prior to Christmas in my main setup downstairs and liked the sound quality but hated the cost and the lack of digital inputs. Taking a chance, I picked up the little brother HAP-S1 to try in my loft and have been over the moon with it. All of my Hi-Rez and CD quality FLAC files now reside on the internal harddrive and an Gen 1 Apple TV is hooked up to the digital input for streaming purposes. I now have the Tannoys connected to the speaker terminals and simply use the HAP-S1 as an integrated amp. Sound quality of this little unit is impressive for the cost and while not as transparent as the Sugden, is good enough to my ears to sit back and enjoy the music. I stream TIDAL directly to the Apple TV and find myself really taken with the service. I am so taken with the sound quality and convenience I find myself wondering do I really need to buy CDs anymore? I can listen to whatever I want whenever I want in CD quality through this service and can even create playlists of my favorite songs and artists within the app to suit moods or evening events. Recommendations are even made by TIDAL based on what I am listening to which helps me discover new music or forgotten gems. The end result of this pairing is that I have not listened to my main system in 2 weeks and have not spun an LP in the same amount of time. No doubt I would find TIDAL and the HAP-S1 to be lacking in my main system but at this point I just don't care. I am sitting in my loft and enjoying the music more now than I have in recent memory. It is just a fun and enjoyable listen.

I am no longer an audiophile, I am simply a music lover.

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so Snell J's in the main system and Stirlings in the 'open concept loft'?

How did you get them up the stairs?:)

Maybe it simply is that the stirlings love the dimensions and shape of this concept loft. If so, then you could run a Linn into them, and they'd STILL be wonderful.

It's all about room/speaker interaction.

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The Snells pair better with the Almarro that do the Tannoys, although I happily lived with the Tannoys in the main system for a year prior to switching back to the Snells. The Almarro lacks negative feedback so the bass tends to be a bit loose on the Tannoys in that setup.

Real bitch carrying the Tannoys up and down 2 flights of stairs from time to time :)

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If the Snells go 5m from the back wall in the loft then I would think they might be a bit thin sounding :dunno: Might that be a reason you didn't get on with the pairing? They do like a bit of wall reinforcement. Anyway I'm not trying to get you to shift your speakers again, just ruminating :) And interesting about TIDAL, lots seem to like it.

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I am no longer an audiophile, I am simply a music lover.

Good for you.

If you enjoy the sound of the music played on your equipment and crave for nothing else, then you have hit the jackpot. :oj:

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Sound of the future here now!

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Super Wammer

Welcome to the fantastic World of streaming music. Great sound quality, no surface noise and very convenient. Welcome back to being a music lover, you are an audiophile who has reached what many audiophiles never reach because they're always messing about with kit - a place where the music is more important.

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Welcome to the fantastic World of streaming music. Great sound quality, no surface noise and very convenient. Welcome back to being a music lover, you are an audiophile who has reached what many audiophiles never reach because they're always messing about with kit - a place where the music is more important.

Thats where I thought I was, but people keep taking the piss out of my speakers. :rofl:

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Ageing ears no longer able to hear differences in equipment ?

I don't know. Have you?

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Thanks everyone. My ears are still good enough to discern differences in equipment, it is just that I have found something with the HAP-S1 and TIDAL that lets me forget all my audiophile neurotic tendencies and simply enjoy the music. I readily admit it is not the most transparent or faithful setup but for once, I don't care. I simply grab my iPad, select the tunes I want to listen to and enjoy. I "may" add an amp at some point in the future if the honeymoon effect wears off and I feel that the Tannoys require more grunt but for now, so far so good.

Cheers.

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Good for you Mark. I had the same experience as you with a UnitiQute a while back. It takes equipment like this that punches above its weight and adds a huge slice of convenience to this (at times) over complicated hobby of hours to remind us it's about the music, not the equipment!

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