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Amp for Thiel CS1.2

 

New member
Username: Newbie32

Post Number: 1
Registered: Feb-13
Hello!

So I am new to this forum and to the audiophile world in general, but I have always loved music and have come to the late realization that my computer speakers just aren't cutting it anymore.

I recently acquired a set of great condition Thiel CS1.2s (for $200 from a local estate sale, which I'm told is a steal, that they are usually ~$350/used) and I'm wondering what to pair them with. As I've noted, I have very little experience with hi-fi equipment.

My needs:
I will not be connecting my speakers to a CD player or to a tuner or to a home entertainment system (I do not have a TV). I intend to purchase a SONOS CONNECT to play my iTunes music wirelessly (Sonos also makes a CONNECT:AMP, but I'm assuming that I can get a better amp elsewhere) and I also have a cheap Audio Technica AT-LP60 turntable, which has a built-in pre-amp (though this pre-amp can be switched off).

My first question is this: What else do I need exactly? As I do not need to connect to a TV and I do not need a tuner, I don't think I need a receiver. I think this means I can get away with an integrated amp or a separate amp and pre-amp (though if I can get away with just the amp, since my turntable has a built-in pre-amp, I would like to do that). Is that right? What about a DAC? As a lot of my music will come from iTunes, I'm wondering whether I need a DAC (or, if I don't need it, whether it will improve my listening experience greatly).

Second, any suggestions for an amp/pre-amp combo or integrated amp? I've read that the Thiels can be a bit on the bright side, so I was thinking of getting a tube amp. I also think they look very slick. The MacIntosh MC275 looks particularly great, though outside of my price range (http://www.mcintoshlabs.com/us/Products/pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=NewProd ucts&ProductId=MC275LimitedEdition), as does the Neuhaus T-2 (http://www.neuhauslabs.com/amplifiers/), though I get the impression that with its emphasis on USB connections, etc., its not a "real" amplifier. And keep in mind that I do not want to connect this system to my computer directly -- it will only go through the SONOS Connect - so the USB connectivity seems irrelevant to me. I'm probably willing to shell out up to $1200 for an amp if the marginal benefits are great, but I'd like to spend $500-$800. I'm willing to buy used equipment, or new. I would like to get equipment with good visual aesthetics, but its not a deal-breaker.

Third, what about other components, like the DAC? And what about spekaer wires? I read somewhere that somebody spent $3000 alone just for wiring. Yikes!

I'm happy to answer more questions if I've not been clear enough, but I'd really appreciate any advice. I'm eager to get my Thiels up-and-running and move out of the audio dark ages.

Thanks in advance!
 

Silver Member
Username: Ornello

Post Number: 166
Registered: Dec-12
Why not get a receiver and a universal disc player?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17711
Registered: May-04
.

While the Thiel's are now twenty years old, they were a well respected speaker for their day. They should still be a very good quality speaker today against products in their original price range, which was slightly over $1k. This, unfortunately, makes them a bit suspect for your intended application. Certainly, it will be your call when you get the system up and running but your purchase of a high fidelity speaker runs you up against the primary rule of system building; a very high quality, very transparent loudspeaker's job is to show exactly what signal it has been fed, good or bad. In the case of the 1.2's this means they really deserve a higher quality signal than the Sonos by itself and playing through iTunes sourced material is likely to give them. The Theils will show up the warts and scars in the Sonos/iTunes system and that may prove to be less than what you think will happen with these speakers. If I were selling you this system from the start, I would have probably suggested a less revealing speaker for your source player combination.



Since you have the Theils, the first order of business will be to get a high quality signal from the Sonos. Set your playback system up to output the highest resolution possible - No MP3 quality sources!!! No lossy formats!!! Record, stream and playback in WAV whenever possible!!! - and the Theils will put out the signal quality fed to them. Aim for no less than "CD quality". Given the demands from the Theils, sacrifice higher quantity for much higher quality.

The common criticism of the Theils is they are "bright". This comes from people who generally don't get Theil's approach to music playback. "Bright" is actually an incorrect term for the frequency balance of the 1.2's as a "bright" sounding speaker or component will have excess energy in the 7kHz presence range. That's not at all the issue with the 1.2's. However, the tweeter in the 1.2 is extended in frequency response and the speaker's overall balance does seem to tilt toward the top end when care is not taken with matching components. Much of this is a subjective judgement made in response to the early roll off in the bass which, when paired with the tweeter's extended response, gives the total impression of a speaker with a sharply rising top end response. The simple bass reflex enclosure of the 1.2 dictates a -24dB per octave roll out below system resonance which means once the 1.2 begins to loose bass it does so rapidly. There's not much useable bass beneath 45-50Hz from the CS1.2. For a cabinet the size of the 1.2's, that's not very deep bass. And the woofer of the 1.2 will not withstand a lot of abuse, so volume levels are reasonable but not room shaking. Be careful with bass heavy or transient heavy music as you can easily damage the 1.2 if you are careless with levels.

A high quality subwoofer (such as a Hsu design) would be a good complement to the 1.2's. Filling out the lower octaves with a powered sub (and, possibly, lifting a bit of the bass requirements from the 1.2) will shift your ear's perception of the system away from the hyper-extended top octaves and the sometimes unforgiving metal dome tweeter. The Theils do not suffer low quality gear in front of or paired with them. Don't cheap out if you decide to buy a sub, you will regret your mistake in short time.

Additionally, in the early '90's the two most common competitor's against the 1.2 were the Spica Angelus and the Van Alstine CS2, both of which had a "warmer" balance to their musical presentation than did the Theils. In other words, their tweeters rolled out sooner than did the Theil's high frequency driver and the balance of the system with either speaker was then tilted more towards the midrange to the bottom end. This was especially true of the Van Alstines which were quite full in the bottom octaves. Both the Spica and the Van Alstine used soft fabric dome tweeters where the 1.2 uses a metal dome. As a rule, metal domes do have naturally occurring resonances (all drivers have resonances) which can be instrusive into the music (and, if given the wrong system, quite aggravating) despite the rather high frequency at which they occur. Theil provided no filters to tame this ringing tweeter and with most musical material it too can give the impression of an overly emphatic high end from the 1.2 system. (http://www.stereophile.com/floorloudspeakers/189thiel/index.html) Low quality source material or a cheap digital source will only aggravate the Theils and make life difficult for the listener. I really cannot stress this fact enough with the 1.2's. The Theils will give back exactly what you put into them.



The professional reviews of the 1.2's suggested "careful system matching" to achieve the best performance from the Theils. First, you must understand Jim Theil's objective for his designs which was to have a "time and phase coherent" system. Time alignment was managed by the slope of the front baffle and the internal connection/wiring system of the drivers and crossover filters. Viewed from the side, the 1.2 has the acoustic center of the wooofer in vertical alignment with the center of the tweeter by way of the sloped front baffle. This alignment should be maintained, so don't set up the speakers to have anything other than a flat top plate without any tilt to the back of the speaker. You should acquire some spikes for the bottom of the 1.2's as this will almost always provide higher quality music playback by mass loading the cabinet to the floor. This is most important if you are using the Theils on a carpetted floor where the speakers sit on a soft underpad.

Phase coherence in the system was achieved in the crossover networks, which are "first order types". First order crossovers are not strictly phase correct but they do have a very gradual -6dB per octave roll in/out which makes life fairly difficult for the individual drivers in the speaker system. With a stated crossover at 2.5kHz the 1.2's tweeter will be down no more than about -6dB at 1.5kHz and the tweeter's natural roll out will take it well outside of its best operating range while still being largely audible to the listener. The same applies to the woofer which is being asked to perform well beyond its best range on the top end. This makes the Theils very susceptible to the failings of low quality equipment/sources in front of them. Any raggedness or lack of sophistication in the electronics will show up as a very aggressive musical performance.

To make issues even more difficult, the 1.2's impedance is stated as 4 Ohms and stays in the 5-6 Ohm range for most of its response range. This is somewhat lower impedance than most amplifiers are built to drive. Receivers are definitely out unless you have the money to buy a very high quality component. A solid state McIntosh MA6200 integrated amplifier or their 4100 receiver should be in your price range and either would pair well with the Theils IMO.

While the impedance of the 1.2 is very flat for a multi-way system, the total load the 1.2's present to an amplifier is rather difficult. Most solid state amplifiers will produce higher power output into the Theil's 4 Ohm load, sometimes as much as double their 8 Ohm rating. However, watts are not what's important with the Theils, current delivery is. Current (Amperage)is difficut for wimpy amps to deliver and this makes the amp suited for the 1.2 not your average power amp. If the amp cannot deliver the sort of current required by the speaker load, the speaker will eventually begin to drive the amp - which is not how this is all intended to work. Therefore, for any solid state amplifier you look at, your first requirement is simply that it can deliver the amperage needed to deal with the 1.2's. In your high-price range the choices narrow to only a handful of amps I would personally pair with the Theils. Which amps you might like with the Theils is a broader question. The 1.2 plays fairly loud with not that many watts - as long as your amp has the current to keep up with the 1.2's. A stout 40 watt amp would suit the Theils in most systems though a "stout 40 watt amp" is sort of like looking for a really quick, superb handling sub-$15k car. The two values don't tend to go together in a lower price range. Typically, what you'll find is an amplifier with high current delivery and selling in your price range tends toward a rather agressive sound balance - not what you want to pair with the 1.2's. Adcoms, PS Audio, Threshold, Cambridge, Harman Kardon, etc all tend towards making the overall system even more difficult to balance unless you either have very high end equipment paired with them or you begin to place BandAids on the overly forward balance of amp and speaker. That's my opinion, your mileage may vary. You might find a suitable amp in the upper end of the NAD line though I tend to think of NAD's as too polite for the Theils. They are at least worth an audition given your speakers though. When I was selling the Theils, we would pair them with PS Audio amps more often than not. This made for a very high performance, low cost system. PS Audio no longer builds amplifiers though you can find their older products on line. My opinion of the pairing was it made my head hurt after not very many songs - but I'm not a fan of most solid state amps in most lower price ranges so take that for what it's worth. As I said, your mileage may vary. The PS Audio pre amps of the time had optional, upgraded power supplies and this made a substantial improvement in the system when paired with the 1.2's.

A Nelson Pass First Watt amp would be an ideal pairing with the 1.2's, if you can find one in good condition in your price range. One of the best pairings I have heard with the Theils are the BK Sonata 200 mono block amplifiers. (Do not look at the lower priced BK amps, they do not like the 4 Ohm load of the 1.2's.) The Sonatas are MOSFet outputs which have the character of a good tube amplifier without the complications of a tube amplifier. You should be able to find a pair of Sonatas in your price range. IMO these are undervalued amps which are very musical and never fatiguing. They do so little wrong and so many things right it's not worth discussing, they just produce enjoyable and engaging music. In a direct comparison to the much higher priced Rowlands, the Sonatas more than held their own.

Tube amps well suited to the Theils are less common. Typically a tubed amplifier will not be capable of the high current delivery required by the Theils. The MC275 would be acceptable with the 1.2's but they are well out of your price range. Vintage McIntosh amps can be found within your price range but I don't like recommending a vintage tube amp as a first time purchase. I've used my McIntosh MC240's (the 40 watt per channel sibling to the MC275) but my amps have been completely refurbished. If you don't have a very good tube technician in your area and you are not ready to deal with the needs of a vintage amp or a tube amp in general, stay away from these products. Virtually any new tube amp in your price range will just not have the current delivery the Theils require. My advice would be to stick with either solid state amps or (solid state) MOSFet amps. If you should insist on a tubed power amplifier, make certain it has a four Ohm tap for the outputs.




With most straight power amps you will need some way to control volume. The Sonos piece has an onboard volume control or you can (and probably should) run this piece through a pre amp. The BK Sonatas would take well to a tubed pre amp in front of them. There are dozens - hundreds if you go pre owned - to choose from though the current names Jolida and Vincent are popular. BK built several very nice pre amps which would pair well with their amplifiers. The Pass amplifiers are unusual and, IMO, should only be paired with other Pass components. Therefore, a Pass pre amp and amp combination is likely to be out of your price range.



It's very difficult to give product recommendations when there are so many options to choose from and how you want the system to perform has not been laid out in specific detail. The same problem arises with DAC's. An external DAC will improve the sound quality and music playback of most digitally based systems. However, what a DAC is most likely to improve may not be values which mean much to you right now. I don't know since you have not said what you expect from your system.

Don't go overboard on cables. Buy good quality cables at a reasonable price commensurate with the rest of the system. Cables represent different things to different listeners and they can also become the BandAid to a poorly matched system or room set up. Systems shouldn't need BanadAids IMO. The most important value you can have, IMO, is a sense of what live music sounds like to your ears. If you can identify a few values which say "live music" to you, use them as a baseline for the music coming from you system. "Tight bass, clear mids and clean highs" are not musical values. You need to think deeper into the music than that. Putting together a system that simply sounds like a bunch of hifi components strung together is much less desireable, IMO, and, more than likely, will not be very satisfying long term with the Theils.

Do some reading before you head out to buy anything. Don't buy anything just for the sake of having something. Take your time and do a proper search for information regarding anything you are interested in buying. An audio system is a series of components whose performance will depend on how well you put together complementary pieces. Read a few threads on the forum for more ideas.




Get some idea how to properly set up your speakers in your room. Place "loudspeaker placement" or "loudspeaker set up" in a search engine for directions. My personal prefernce for most speakers is the Wilson WATT speaker placement program. It positions the speakers for the best midrange quality and typically fits well into most rooms. While placing the 1.2's against a wall will give the bass a bit of a boost, the Theil's midrange will do best when they are placed well out into the room - at least 3' out from the wall and 2' from the sidewalls, more if required and if possible. There are several threads on the forum which deal with speaker set up. In general the Theils should not be toed in toward your listening position. Face them so they fire directly down the length of the room and place them several feet away from the walls. If your chair more or less forms an equilateral triangle with the speakers you are started on a decent set up with the Theils. Listening height is important with the Theils. If you sit too high or too low, you will not get the best of what the Theils have to offer. If the system in front of the 1.2's is of sufficiently high quality and the speakers are properly set up - especially the source player - the Theils will disappear from the room and you will have a good sense of musicians playing in your listening space.




To be honest, the Theils require a lot of system in front of them and a lot of dedication by the listener to achieve the best from the speakers. IMO the 1.2's can easily be paired with a multi-kilo-buck amplifier and you cannot overdo the source player. While the 1.2's were considered a good speaker for a modestly priced system back in the early '90's, they aren't really what I would have suggested for a first time purchase. Set up poorly or paired with subpar gear, they can be rather over the top and not very satisfying in the long run. They suffer from what is called "listener fatigue" which will have you prematurely shutting down the system. Paired with the best equipment available, they are superb performers which will give you a good taste of high end audio's capabilities. Which end result you have is totally up to you and your willingness to make the system work.

If you have a Theil dealer anywhere in your area, I would first give them a call for some advice. The way I sold a system was to match "like" with "like" which, when I had a speaker like the 1.2 meant very careful matching or else the system would tip over into the too much of a good thing category. Some salespeople will recommend using "warmer" components with the 1.2's in what, in my opinion, is putting a BandAid on the system which tries to negate much of what Jim Theil put into his speakers. IMO you are looking for articulate but not analytical gear. Don't get caught up in equipment which seeks out the last ounce of detail from the music, the speakers will provide that without more being added by the system. Play on a system with a good sense of musical values above all else. Which approach you take to assembling your system will determine the long term success and satisfaction the music provides.

Whenever possible, you should give components an audition with the Theils in your own room before spending your cash. But, certainly, "careful system matching" is required with any modern Theil speaker.

Good luck.


.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17713
Registered: May-04
.


Why don't you give this amp a try?

http://tbisound.com/dsp_products_millenia.asp

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue62/millenia.htm



I have one of these at home right now and it is a stunner at its price. Running this off the supplied AC power supply (not batteries) you should have sufficient power to drive the 1.2's. The amp sounds quite good and plays much louder than its power rating would suggest. Class D amps weren't around when the Theils were new but they have made significant inroads into the high end on a budget market in the last few years. For what I value in music the TBi kicks the b*tt of any sub $1k sold state amp being sold new today. But you may not listen for the same values I apreciate.

Give Jan at TBi a call and discuss what you have and what you want. He's the very proud designer of this amp and he'll give you a straight ahead answer if he thinks the amp isn't well suited to what you're looking for.



.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17715
Registered: May-04
.


Sorry, I misstated the name of the Wilson set up program; http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/waspe.
 

Silver Member
Username: Ornello

Post Number: 169
Registered: Dec-12
I repeat:

Why not get a receiver and a universal disc player?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramophone_record

Shortcomings

At the time of the introduction of the compact disc (CD) in the mid-1980s, the stereo LP pressed in vinyl was at the high point of its development. Still, it continues to suffer from a variety of limitations:

The stereo image is not made up of fully discrete Left and Right channels; each channel's signal coming out of the magnetic cartridge contains approximately 20% of the signal from the other channel. The lack of pure channel separation makes for a sense of diminished soundstage.


LP pre echo
Menu
0:00
The empty space before the start of the music has been amplified +15dB to reveal the pre-echo.
Problems listening to this file? See media help.

Thin, closely spaced spiral grooves that allow for increased playing time on a 33�" rpm microgroove LP lead to a tinny pre-echo warning of upcoming loud sounds. The cutting stylus unavoidably transfers some of the subsequent groove wall's impulse signal into the previous groove wall. It is discernible by some listeners throughout certain recordings but a quiet passage followed by a loud sound will allow anyone to hear a faint pre-echo of the loud sound occurring 1.8 seconds ahead of time.[53] This problem can also appear as "post"-echo, with a tinny ghost of the sound arriving 1.8 seconds after its main impulse.
Fidelity steadily drops as playback progresses; there is more vinyl per second available for fine reproduction of high frequencies at the large-diameter beginning of the groove than at the smaller-diameter end closest to the center. The beginning of the groove on an LP gives 510 mm of vinyl per second traveling past the stylus while the ending of the groove gives 200�€"210 mm of vinyl per second �€" less than half the linear resolution.[54]
Factory problems involving incomplete hot vinyl flow within the stamper can fail to accurately recreate a small section of one side of the groove, a problem called non-fill. It usually appears on the first item on a side if present at all. Non-fill makes itself known as a tearing, grating or ripping sound.
Poor vinyl quality control can put bits of foreign material in the path of the stylus, creating a permanent "pop" or "tick".
The user setting the stylus down in the middle of a recording can cut into the groove and create a permanent "pop" or "tick".
If the needle has been "scrubbed" on a particular part of the record (repeatedly playing a short portion for cueing purposes or for "scratching") a permanent increase in noise will occur at that spot. If this happens at the beginning of the track, it is called "cue burn."
Dust or foreign matter collects on the record, making for multiple "pops" and "ticks" if not carefully cleaned.
A static electric charge can build up on the surface of the spinning record and discharge into the stylus, making a loud "pop". In very dry climates, this can happen several times per minute. Subsequent plays of the same record does not have pops in the same places in the music as the static buildup isn't tied to variations in the groove.
An off-center stamping will apply a slow 0.56 Hz modulation to the playback, affecting pitch due to the modulating speed that the groove runs under the stylus. The effect becomes gradually more acute during playback as the stylus moves closer to the centre of the record. It also affects tonality because the stylus is pressed alternately against one groove wall and then the other, making the frequency response change in each channel. This problem is often called "wow," though turntable and motor problems can also cause pitch-only "wow."
Motor problems or belt slippage can cause momentary pitch changes. If these repeat regularly, they may be called "flutter"; if they happen slowly they may be called "wow".
Turntable surface slickness, or the slickness of a stack of LPs can allow the top record to slip, causing momentary lowering of pitch in the playback.
Tracking force of the stylus is not always the same from beginning to end of the groove. Stereo balance can shift as the recording progressed.
Outside electrical interference may be amplified by the magnetic cartridge. Common household wallplate SCR dimmers sharing AC lines may put noise into the playback, as can poorly shielded electronics and strong radio transmitters.
Loud sounds in the environment may be transmitted mechanically from the turntable's sympathetic vibration into the stylus. Heavy footfalls can bounce the needle out of the groove.
Heat can warp the disk, causing pitch and tone problems if minor; tracking problems if major. Badly warped records will be rendered unplayable.
Because of a slight slope in the lead-in groove, it is possible for the stylus to skip ahead several grooves when settling into position at the start of the recording.
The LP is delicate. Any accidental fumbling with the stylus or dropping of the record onto a sharp corner can scratch the record permanently, creating a series of "ticks" and "pops" heard at subsequent playback. Heavier accidents can cause the stylus to break through the groove wall as it plays, creating a permanent skip that will cause the stylus to either skip ahead to the next groove or skip back to the previous groove. A skip going to the previous groove is called a broken record; the same section of 1.8 seconds of LP (1.3 if 45 rpm) music will repeat over and over until the stylus is lifted off the record. It is also possible to put a slight pressure on the headshell causing the stylus to stay in the desired groove, without having a playback break. This requires some skill, but is of great use when for instance digitizing a recording, as no information is skipped.
 

New member
Username: Newbie32

Post Number: 2
Registered: Feb-13
Jan,

Thanks a ton for your post! I made a rash decision, exceeding my budget and springing for a Vincent SV-236 MKII (http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/vincent_tubeline_sv-236mk_integrated_ amplifier/). Once I realized that I would need to get both a pre-amp and an amp, this seemed to be a good value for the price and capable of powering my next set of speakers once I decide to upgrade (I was initially intending to buy a set of JM Lab 946's, so that I found the Thiels for 1/10th of the price also made me justify, in my head, spending more on my amp/pre-amp). I've also read that you can swap out the Chinese-made tubes of the Vincent to get a better sound, which allows for a bit of upgrade-ability. It arrives Friday (along with some reasonably priced Blue Jeans Cables), so I'll let you know how it sounds. Feel free to let me know if you think they won't pair well, as I think there is a 30-day return policy.

I do have a few follow-up questions for you, though, if you'd be so kind. On your point about Sonos/music playback, I really only want to use Sonos to play my iTunes music wirelessly (I have about 20,000 songs that I have collected over the years, and all of my classical music is digital, having ripped it from the university library). I understand that I can upgrade these songs to 256kbps through iTunes matching. Will that cut it? If not, what do you suggest? Do I need to re-rip all of my CDs in .wav format (is that even possible)? I really don't want to buy a CD player; one of the advantages of living in the digital age is the ability to make long playlists. If I want to listen to an album in its entirety I will usually play the vinyl. For some reason I thought that iTunes ripped MP3s were "CD quality." Apparently I'm mistaken.

On the subwoofer, any particular recommendations? I found a CNET review for the Hsu VTF-1 MK2 (around $400), but I don't really trust CNET. Now that I've spent $2K on an amp/pre-amp combo, I really need to stick to 300-500 for a sub. What about placement? Should I put the sub in front of my speakers? Between them? Behind them?

Third, my speakers will be sitting on a hardwood floor. I guess the spikes are just to make sure that they sit flat (I noticed some rocking by one of them last evening). Any suggestions for spikes that aren't cheaply made?

Finally, how important is it to have clearance on the sides of the speakers, and does it need to be completely clear? I can pull the speakers about 3 feet from the back wall, but there is a wall on the side of the left speaker that only gives about 3 inches clearance. The right speaker is about 3 inches from a post that does not obstruct the entire side of the speaker. Will this really distort the sound? I suppose I can find a different spot, but I might start getting flak from the old lady for rearranging the room.


Thanks, Jan, for your time. I've read and re-read your post 3 times now, which was very helpful!

EDIT: I live in Houston, by the way, so if you have any suggestions for good hi-fi places to go that aren't too far, I'd appreciate it. It's sometimes good to speak with knowledgable people in person, and also to listen to equipment before buying.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 2084
Registered: Oct-10
"I repeat:

Why not get a receiver and a universal disc player?"


My guess would be that the OP likes his records and you can't twist another person's arm into liking this fromat better than that format. Some folks prefer the sound of records. Others like the nastagia of them. Also, I don't know what kind(s) of music Newbie32 likes, but if he happens to like older recordings of classical, jazz, rock and/or country, many of them never made it to CD. If he wants to keep listening to such albums, he'll need to keep his TT and records. Even if he transfers his records to CD or other digital media, he'll still have to use his TT to make that happen. Another thing to keep in mind is that this hobby is about what sounds good to each individual participant's ears. If your system sounds good to you, great enjoy it, but that doesn't mean it sounds good to anyone else. Right? The best way to help Newbie is to suggest things that help him achieve what he plans to with his TT and records.
 

Silver Member
Username: Ornello

Post Number: 170
Registered: Dec-12
For those speakers you might be better off with a power-amp + pre-amp combo.

Also, a universal player will allow you to play CDs, DVDs, SACDs, etc.

Something like this:

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-xkeaRmh5BgL/p_768BDP95/Oppo-BDP-95.html?XVINQ=DST&XVVER=CCC
 

Silver Member
Username: Ornello

Post Number: 172
Registered: Dec-12
I don't think that there are too many records that have not been re-issued on CD. I have found the vast majority of mine were, at some time or another, though in some cases it took a long time. In some cases too the records were not good to begin with, with poor quality pressings (especially in the 1970s).

In general, records suck.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 2087
Registered: Oct-10
Well, there are quite a few jazz records that never made it to CD. Right now, the CD is in serious jeopardy of being phased out. So, that which is not on CD already, might never get there.
 

Silver Member
Username: Ornello

Post Number: 174
Registered: Dec-12
Nonsense. Billions of CDs are sold every year.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17718
Registered: May-04
.

Newbie, here's some off topic advice for you; http://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/714454.html#POST2009653



The Vincent amp should do a nice job with the Theils. With over 200 watts of power available into a four Ohm load, the amp should be capable of producing sufficient current to drive the Theils. Given the very low ouptut impedance of the Vincent, the bass response of the 1.2's should be quite well controlled. Never having heard this combination and based strictly on paperwork numbers, I'd say you made a good selection. Blue Jeans has become a low cost favorite for quality cables at a price that won't require a second mortgage.





"I understand that I can upgrade these songs to 256kbps through iTunes matching. Will that cut it?"




The problem with asking that question is I have no idea what your references are or what you are expecting from the system. Since 256kbps would be an "upgrade" I assume these files have been ripped at the lowest bitrate possible. Asking the player/source to upgrade your files to a higher bit rate isn't going to help the sound quality.

When the MP3 format was established twenty years ago it allowed for a compression of the file size but it did so by throwing away certain portions of the signal. The format was based on psycho-acoustic perceptions which say certain sounds in a music file are louder or more prominent than are other sounds. When these "more prominent" sounds are present (horns louder than piccolloes), there is no need to include in the file those lower level signals which are less prominent - therefore, less necessary - to your perception of the event. MP3 format does away with these signals to make the file smaller and therefore provides you the capacity to fit more lower quality files into a storage device. At the time this format was released to the public there were no MP3 players. The format was first used in Sony's Mini-Disc player and also provided the basis for the satellite TV and radio stations which were beginning to emerge.

Since the introduction of MP3 players and smaller and smaller storage devices, the bitrate of lossy files has gone down and down to accomodate more and more storage on the smallest of players. These "lossy" files have thrown away more and more of the signal to make the files smaller in accomodation to the players. The important words here are "lossy files" and "thrown away" the signal. Once these signals are lost in the low quality formats, they cannot be restored to their original density of information. So, while various players offer the ability to "upgrade" or upsample files, if you are beginning with a file which has a significant loss of information, there's no way the the conversion process can add back in the information which no longer exists. It would be like asking me to fill in the missing numbers on your test when I have no idea what the subject matter is.

Upsampling or upconverting a file - which are two distinct processes - adds zeroes to the back of the file. Not to get too complicated but these additional zeroes have the ability to be thrown away by the use of a digital volume control on the player without affecting signal quality. Digital volume controls reduce levels by reducing information, starting with the least significant bits - which are the lowest level signals in a file. While some amount of dither has been added to a digital file it doesn't take much before the level reduction has begun reducing bits, which results in quantization noise/distortions. If you're starting with the lowest bitrate possible, and all you've added are additional zeroes to accomodate a digital volume control, there simply isn't enough informnation there to make any significant difference to the quality of playback.


Which storage format is best? There are diagreements as to how you should record/rip/transfer your files though no one really disagrees you should strive for the highest bitrate and sampling rate which will fit your files onto your storage device. There is no doubt the more files you fit, the lower the quality must be as more signal must either be discarded or compressed. Therefore, any file which has been ripped with a lossy format will never be able to be fully restored and should be discarded for higher bitrates.

WAV format is essentially a 16 bit sampling rate format - it is considered to be the "same as" CD quality. Though some people claim to hear differences, the general feeling is music should be ripped at this lossless format rate if quality is your objective. As the music industry exists today, there is no loss of information which would be evident at a later date should you convert a WAV file to a higher bit or sampling rate. You can upsample a WAV file to even higher resolutions and still not loose information from the original file. However, upsampling and upconverting operate the same in all formats. If you begin with a 16 bit, 44.1kHz sampling rate, upsampling that file to, say, a 24 bit, 192kHz file has only added zeroes to the lowest level (least significant bits) of the file and no real information has or can be put back. That's a lot of digital gobble-de-gook and, if you're confused, just ask for a better explanation. The bottom line is unless you begin with the highest bit rate and sampling rate possible - which will be determined by your system's playback abilities - upsampling or upconverting a file has minimal, if any, realworld benefits.

There are lossless compression type formats which claim to compress a WAV file to roughly half its size on your storage device yet expand the file on the fly during playback to accomplish a "same as" quality with WAV. iTunes incorporates such a lossless compression format and, unless you have your player/ripper set to adjust file size further, iTunes will automatically set an incoming WAV file as lossless (compressed). This will allow you to fit about twice as many files on the same storage device as a full size, lossless, uncompressed WAV file, but not nearly as many as a lower bitrate format. On paper, these lossless compressions are fine. However, the better the system and the more attentive the listener, the more you are likely to notice subtle differences between lossless, compressed files and lossless, uncompressed files. Given the price of storage devices today, when you can pick up a 1.5 Tb hard drive for less than $50 on sale, I rip/transfer almost all of my files using WAV. Of course, I have some files which are lower quality or less important to me and those I will set at a lossless, compressed format. For today's tecnhology, unless you are consistently downloading at 24/192 rates, this should provide the best opportunity to have quality files for the foreseeable future.

Outboard DAC's can make sense of a limited number of file formats. While virtually all DAC's can process low bitrate MP3 files, many USB based DAC's cannot process anything more than 24/192, which really should be satisfactory for most applications. But outboard DAC's are becoming the hot item in high end audio and you would be wise to do some reading and thinking before you jumped into the purcahse of a DAC. Certainly, what is state of the art today will be outdated soon enough as digital tecnology moves forward.


I would suggest you make a few rips at various bitrates and sampling rates once you have the system up and running. Listen to the differences between bitrates and decide which best suits your needs. I don't have your ears and you don't have my experiences with live music. I'm aware the "younger set" likes the idea of long playlists. Me? I find the idea silly. I put on a disc or start a file playing and I sit and listen until it is finished. So we're coming at this from different ends. My only real advice is ripping files is time consuming. Why do it more than once and not make that one time as high in quality as you can?


http://www.computeraudiophile.com/




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Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 2088
Registered: Oct-10
Ornello, do a google search of "CD sales" as your typing, "CD sales decline" will pop up as an option. There are numerous sites that will tell that the sale of CDs is rapidly declining.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17719
Registered: May-04
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Any of the Hsu subs would be fine with the CS 1.2's. I've used their lowest priced unit and thought it was quite good. Buying a sub with higher ouptut levels than that sub won't gain much - if anything - as long as you're using the 1.2's, they simply can't output the levels to keep up with the bigger Hsu subs. Extending the response downward with a larger sub is somewhat futile. Your music only contains signals of a set frequency and your room can only support bass response down to a certain frequency. While having response beneath 20Hz can add some "atmosphere" from top notch recordings, the music isn't producing the information and those recordings containing those frequencies are quite rare to test a sub beneath about 30Hz.


Theils on a hardwood floor can be ... too much? Your speaker set up must take into account that as much as 80% of what you perceive from the system will be the room itself. Multiple reflections and absorptions, room peaks and nulls all add up to to make the overall sound a literal reflection of the room and its dimensions plus its surface types. Hardwood floors are highly reflective and can add a level of bounced sounds which can take a speaker such as the 1.2's and create a sound at your listening chair which simply has too much of the top octaves. The highest frequencies are the most directional frequencies and keeping the speakers facing straight ahead will make a difference to this "in room sound". How and where you set up the speakers and your chair relative to the room's reflective surfaces will alter the balance of sound you preceive. Unfortunately, you have a fixed distance between the tweeters and the floor that you can't alter so you have to work round that issue. Moving the speakers from the short wall to the long wall will make for a fairly different sounding speaker as will the opposite. There is no best spot in a room for the speakers to sit, simply spots which are less bad for the sound. http://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/672623.html


The advantage of using a powered subwoofer has the benefit of placing the sub where it performs best for those frequencies it outputs while also being able to place the main speakers for best performance in the mids and for soundstaging purposes. Where exactly that spot is for the sub in your room is not something I can predict since a sub can sound very good in several locations within one room. There are several placement suggestions on line and there should be several mentioned in the "subwoofer" section of this forum. Locating a sub properly is a matter of reading how to do it, doing a trial location and then listening. Bass wavelenghths are longer than the dimensions of most rooms so you are trying to find the location(s) where the sub has the least interference from the effects of the room while also being supported by the room's surfaces. Quantity is here again not the objective.

Quality bass is different for each listener so it's important you have an idea how bass should sound to you. Since you say you listen to classical music you have a reference which is not amplified bass. Therefore, you should select a few recordings which you feel have "good bass" and make those your test recordings as you move the sub around. Bass underpins the music and, in most music, it provides the "beat" the other musicians and the listeners latch onto to perceive the forward momentum in the composition. Different bass instruments should be obvious after the sub has been set and a cello should be distinct from a double bass or a bassoon. The perception of a Bosendorfer piano should be distinct fron the character of a Steinway. Whatever bass quality means to you - other than quantity alone - that is what you are aiming for with your set up.

Keep the sub's crossover frequency low, you don't need to do any more than fill in the last octave and a half with the 1.2's. If you have the sub run up too high, you'll begin to notice the specific location of the sub's output and you'll create interference patterns with the main speakers. Read about the set up process
and then ask more questions as needed.


How far away from the walls you need to place your speakers is dependent upon your room and your tastes. The 1.2's have very wide dispersion tweeters and their stated frequency response is taken in a room without reflections. Reflections of signals from the walls, floor and ceiling will add more energy to the "in room" response which you perceive at your listening chair. Here's a bit of an article which deals with the ideas of room sound; http://www.decware.com/paper39.htm There's far more to it than the article covers but that is also a whole lot more than I can deal with in a single forum post.


Spiked speakers are "mass loaded" enclosures. By taking the mass of the entire speaker system and focussing that mass onto the very small footprint of the spike's tip each spike carries multiple times the actual weight of the speaker itself. I don't remember what spikes came with the Theils but you should have some threaded spikes which are adjustable for level. http://www.parts-express.com/cat/speaker-cabinet-spikes/317

IMO the spikes with clear threads are the best choice for most situations. Add two nuts under the speaker to allow for adjusting the length of the spike and you can snug the first nut against the bottom of the cabinet and then tighten the second nut against the first to lock it in place. When you have appropriately adjusted the spikes you should be able to push on the cabinet from any side and it will feel as if it is bolted to the floor. If the speaker wobbles when you push, you need to do more adjustments. On a hardwood floor you can place a coin under the tip of the spike or you can buy some of the "specialty" discs meant to keep the spike from digging into your floor.

If needed, you can set up your speakers for best performance and then move them out of the way for traffic patterns when they are not in use. Spikes make this difficult and you risk damaging the floor if you drop one side of the speaker while you're moving it. If you want to try this, mark the location of two corners of the speaker with small tabs of masking tape so you can always return the speakers to their best location. It's also likely you'll change your mind a bit about the right location after you've spent some time listening. If you need to scoot the speaker around, try an automotive parts store for some threaded "balls". Usually plastic, these are used in the automotive fields for trim pieces. A ball will act as well as a spike under your speakers since the ball will have a very small location which will form a tangent with the surface of the floor placing the same mass loading on the ball. I can't guarantee you'll have an easy time fiding such threaded balls but they are available. If the auto parts shop doesn't have any, try the furniture department of your local home improvement store. You can find threaded wooden drawer pulls there.


I don't know Houston well enough to tell you where to shop nowdays. Dealers have gone out of business since the last time I was there and most dealers who are left have taken on too much home theatre crap. Do a simple search for a few lines you might be interested in and find their nearest dealer. San Antonio isn't that close but I think Bjorn's is still in business there.




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