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Hi friends, I'm from Spain, sorry for my terrible English.

I have followed this forum,  I have never dared to participate due to the difficulty of the language, however now I need the help of the experts who participate in this forum.

I have built a modest team since I am a pensioner and my financial resources are very low, I have an Onkyo A-9755 amplifier -which was not sold in the USA- class D of 150W at 8 Ohms. and 300 W at 4 ohms. connected to Focal Aria 936 loudspeakers, reviewer Robert Deutsch https://www.stereophile.com/content/focal-aria-936-loudspeaker-measurements gave them good marks and concluded that they dropped to 2.8 Ohms. and therefore they had to be paired with amplifiers of about 4 Ohms. I use as a Lenovo with Linux and JRiver connected to a Topping D-10 DAC where I have approximately one terabyte of music source especially FLAC, WAV and DSD. All this accompanied by an Onkyo CD and two Onkyo and Yamaha cassette decks and a Technics SL-QL1 tangential platter.

However, my question is whether I am getting all the "juice" from the Focal Aria 936 -which is the star of the team- which piece of the team do you think is the weak link, changing the DAC for a better one would bring a notable change or perhaps It would be necessary to improve the Onkyo amplifier, I have to say that it enjoys very good reviews, it goes down well to the Ohms. that the boxes require and it has plenty of power. What is your opinion ?.

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Welcome Francisco.

 

Your English is perfect – no need to apologise.

I am sure there will be members that are familiar with your equipment that I hope can provide some useful advice for you.

 

Cheers,

 

Chris

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It depends what best sound you are looking for whether two channel stereo for mostly music quality or home theatre to watch mostly movies, media and similar. 

 

You can see in many past discussions here and other hifi forums that for your item value of about AuD $1400 home theatre amplifier two channel stereo music is not usually very good. It is common for such units to not sound clear with enough details. The Focal speakers need a better quality two channel amplifier. The problem is that the HT unit has too many functions which cost money to build and the amplifier power section circuits and design (power transformer, capacitors and other items) are lower cost and quality than a dedicated two channel amp with less functions but more construction cost and quality devoted to the same amplifier parts resulting in better power supply and sound quality.

 

You can either change your HT unit for a better sounding two channel stereo amp or get another HT unit that has a bypass function to switch to a 2 channel amp in the same system so you have both. 

Edited by Al.M
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Thanks for your reply. My amplifier is not a home theater type, it is an integrated two channel 300W on 4 Ohms Onkyo 9755. and high current capacity, this is what the Focal Aria 936 demand.
I was wondering if changing this, the DAC Topping D-10 or the source would make a measurable improvement in the final sound.

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Great speakers. D10 is the entry DAC from topping. D50 is considered to be more detailed and E30 is somewhere in between. It's not going to be a huge difference. With some music you may not even notice any improvement.

I would rather invest in isoacoustics speaker stands. 

Besides that there's nothing to improve unless one day you decide to get Kanta no2.  

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12 hours ago, franlober said:

Thanks for your reply. My amplifier is not a home theater type, it is an integrated two channel 300W on 4 Ohms Onkyo 9755. and high current capacity, this is what the Focal Aria 936 demand.
I was wondering if changing this, the DAC Topping D-10 or the source would make a measurable improvement in the final sound.

My apologies for mistaking your amp as an HT amp. So then the general question is how good are $Aud 1400 integrated amps. Generally at this price range it is considered lower midfi quality and a $3000 amp should be better from other manufacturers like Musical Fidelity, more expensive Yamaha like AS1100 or 2100, Roksan and others. Search for regular posts by Cafad on this forum reviewing many integrated amps to get an idea of what is available.

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On 21/09/2020 at 7:37 PM, franlober said:

However, my question is whether I am getting all the "juice" from the Focal Aria 936

Hi Francisco, may I ask what "juice" do you think you are not getting from the Focal's?

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I certainly don't know, they sound good but I don't know if they could sound better.
I understand that with a high-end DAC and a high-quality integrated amplifier or a separate preamp and power amp I would surely gain in quality, however that would be a large investment that I cannot make.
I suppose a Roksan or Naim should be an improvement but would it be worth spending 3,000 / 4,000 USD if the improvement is only 5%?
Maybe a better DAC could make a difference for just $ 300/500?

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6 minutes ago, franlober said:

 

... but would it be worth spending 3,000 / 4,000 USD if the improvement is only 5%?
 

 

I would say ... no !  :)

 

6 minutes ago, franlober said:


I suppose a Roksan or Naim should be an improvement but would it be worth spending 3,000 / 4,000 USD if the improvement is only 5%?
 

 

Having owned several Naim amps in the past, I would say there are plenty of other amps to buy, in that price bracket, which will sound much better.  xD

 

7 minutes ago, franlober said:


Maybe a better DAC could make a difference for just $ 300/500?

 

 

Yes, I would say a better DAC than your D10 - which might not even cost $300 - would improve your sound.  :thumb:

 

(I recently bought 4x Topping E30s to stop using the DAC chips which are included in my miniDSP unit - and this made a major improvement.)

 

Andy

 

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I'm not sure how long you have had your current set up, I am guessing not too long?

 

There are any number of people with the best of intentions here at stereonet willing to spend your money 😃,  but in my very humble opinion you have a pretty decent set up as it stands with very well regarded gear especially your speakers.

 

Unless you can identify what you are missing how will you know when you get it by installing other pieces of kit willy-nilly?

 

Perhaps you can trial other DAC's or amplifiers in your system before purchasing as way of testing the waters if you are convinced you can get more from your speakers via changing other components?

 

 

 

 

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Below is a picture of the Onkyo amp inside and if means anything at all it looks like they have tried to make this better at the price with dual mono design transformers resulting in a 17kg weight over others at this price that may be less. Searching for general independent user reviews the model does not come up very well so either that means it was not that good and famous or that the market failed to realise for other reasons. 

 

Compared to something like a Roksan Kandy integrated amp that has a lot of good reviews that I have personally used and confirm it is above average at the price.

 

There is generalised comments that Japanese designee midfi range amps sound good but not as musical or detailed as European market amps so that may give a rough indication of what you get by trying different amps.

 

One way with less risk and loss of money is to buy a good condition used amp for about less than half new price and if you don’t like it sell with little or no loss of money. For Aud$1400 new price of the Onkyo 9555 you could find $3000-4000 new retail price amps with better potential.

 

In my experience after trying many midfi amps there is about a 5-30% subjective difference in trying different amps that match your speakers better.

8D0EE781-7116-48F6-8615-322D5131D46C.jpeg

DFF401E0-C9C7-4AE7-B7C1-5936FC827789.jpeg

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Your speaker is 92db/8ohm, it does not require a lot of current to drive but you need “good and quality” watts. Class D technology in 2005 verus 2020 is a completely different story, maybe nothing new in class A or AB Technology  but class D in the past is surely not the same as current.

 

for budget  friendly, I would suggest you to try today class D, Primare i35 would be an excellent choice. If you can go a bit more, try Primare A35.5/Pre35, their price will be in a same league and bracket with your speaker.

 

hifi brands did very hard job to compete and price their products to match different leagues and brackets, you need a balance investment in all 3 (speaker, amp/preamp and dac).

If one of them is not in a same league, you have a weakness in your system and of course you cannot squeeze all juices of the remaining two components

Edited by ikhuong
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I like focal, try give it a big class a amp, it will sing beautifully. 
 

try not use small tube, it won’t have enough power to drive it.   Big n powerful tube amp will be very expensive. 

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5 hours ago, Al.M said:

Below is a picture of the Onkyo amp inside and if means anything at all it looks like they have tried to make this better at the price with dual mono design transformers resulting in a 17kg weight over others at this price that may be less. Searching for general independent user reviews the model does not come up very well so either that means it was not that good and famous or that the market failed to realise for other reasons. 

 

Compared to something like a Roksan Kandy integrated amp that has a lot of good reviews that I have personally used and confirm it is above average at the price.

 

There is generalised comments that Japanese designee midfi range amps sound good but not as musical or detailed as European market amps so that may give a rough indication of what you get by trying different amps.

 

One way with less risk and loss of money is to buy a good condition used amp for about less than half new price and if you don’t like it sell with little or no loss of money. For Aud$1400 new price of the Onkyo 9555 you could find $3000-4000 new retail price amps with better potential.

 

In my experience after trying many midfi amps there is about a 5-30% subjective difference in trying different amps that match your speakers better.

8D0EE781-7116-48F6-8615-322D5131D46C.jpeg

DFF401E0-C9C7-4AE7-B7C1-5936FC827789.jpeg

Pleasantly surprised by your interest, it is indeed a 2005 approx. Class D, at the time it was an Onkyo innovation with a technique called VSL - I think I remember - that sold for about £ 900.
I think I have read all the Onkyo reviews and they were really good. My Focal Aria 936 goes down to 2.8 Ohms. and they require high current, this Onkyo A-9755 amplifier I bought on Ebay for € 223 in perfect condition and it more than meets these aspects, however in SNR -100DB- and distortion 0.08% (1 kHz, 1 W) it is far from the best current class D designs.
My economy does not allow me to pay large amounts, at the moment I am looking at amplifiers built with Hypex and Purify class D modules, certainly cheap but they require a certain quality preamp and I need a good quality phono input.

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3 hours ago, ikhuong said:

Your speaker is 92db/8ohm, it does not require a lot of current to drive but you need “good and quality” watts. Class D technology in 2005 verus 2020 is a completely different story, maybe nothing new in class A or AB Technology  but class D in the past is surely not the same as current.

 

for budget  friendly, I would suggest you to try today class D, Primare i35 would be an excellent choice. If you can go a bit more, try Primare A35.5/Pre35, their price will be in a same league and bracket with your speaker.

 

hifi brands did very hard job to compete and price their products to match different leagues and brackets, you need a balance investment in all 3 (speaker, amp/preamp and dac).

If one of them is not in a same league, you have a weakness in your system and of course you cannot squeeze all juices of the remaining two components

Thanks for your advice, unfortunately the Primare are far from my budget, I am looking at Hypex or Purifi modules although I would like more an integrated amplifier that has several inputs, among them good quality phono preamplifier but so far I only find amplifiers with Hypex without the connections I need.

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  • 3 weeks later...

HI Fran, and welcome to SNA. There are many who will advise here from experience, and remember that we are all "experts of our own devices". (un chiste corte = a small joke). 

 

I agree completely with the advice above of buying or trying new (or used) amplifiers, or Integrated Amp/pre, Class A or A/B. Gently used equipement (but not too old) can be great value. Class D has come along way, but in my opinion it is not very musically inviting. (And I own a Sony STR9000DA super amazing amp/pre that is in storage - Powerful and clear with many functions.) 

 

Also I do think that your DAC may be holding your music back as well. Best scenario is to trial dacs out on your system, if that is possible. If not then try to discover what is within your price range and what your ear is liking by going to hifi shops or listening to other systems. (Covid Precautions are preventing normal social behaviours, I know...). 

 

Also what is your main listening source? Or sources? FLAC and then CD and then Vinyl? etc.. . That may help you to put energy and attention towards that avenue. 

 

I just listened to a system last week that I have heard before, and it had the brand new addition of a Solid State Class A/B amp.. Though the sound was very, very clear and powerful, it did not seem musical enough to me and I felt that the DAC was holding his system back.( It is an 8-10 year Cambridge Audio Dacmagic). My friend said he had just ordered a new DAC, the Denafrips Ares 2. He has it now and though I have not heard it he said it is miles beyond (super bueno) what he thought possible in his listening space. His system is completely computer FLAC/Wav . 

 

Also shielded power cables/RCA upgrades can support Bass, vocals, and overall soundstage. (It doesn't have to cost over 100 Euros each.)

 

'Hable con ella' is one of my favorite CD's, and one of my top audio system testers. 

Enjoy the music     Jonathan

 

 

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On 25/09/2020 at 2:51 AM, franlober said:

 I am looking at amplifiers built with Hypex and Purify class D modules, certainly cheap but they require a certain quality preamp and I need a good quality phono input.

That is actually very common, there are enough power amps class D but not enough preamplifiers to work with them well. When it comes to Primare I think I25 is more than enough for Aria 936 or maybe even i15. There is Nord from UK as well.

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there are always many means to improve the sound of an audio system without spending money.

review your system setup to see if any areas that can be improved.

 

these are some of the things that i can think of, off the cuff:

 

- correct ac polarity

- the amplifier's power supply being fed directly from the wall mains

- segregating dirty electronics (like modem, set top boxes, TVs, AV sources) from audio components in the power grid

- correct signal flow directionality for all interconnect cables and speaker cables

- ensure no cable fasteners (plastic/metal strips) are still attached to any of the powercords, interconnect, and speaker cables

- placement of equipment relative to other equipment (to minimise magnetic interference)

- minimising the number of equipment count in a system

- minimising magnetic interferences from extraneous metallic items in the proximity of the audio system

- low vibration platforms for equipment to stand on (No stacking!!!)

- power on sequence for digital devices (transport => DAC)

- regular demag of the system

- experiment with grounding to reduce/eliminate parasite chassis leakage current

- and of course, speaker positioning and room acoustics

 

 

Edited by jeromelang
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On 10/11/2020 at 7:13 AM, akjono said:

HI Fran, and welcome to SNA. There are many who will advise here from experience, and remember that we are all "experts of our own devices". (un chiste corte = a small joke). 

 

I agree completely with the advice above of buying or trying new (or used) amplifiers, or Integrated Amp/pre, Class A or A/B. Gently used equipement (but not too old) can be great value. Class D has come along way, but in my opinion it is not very musically inviting. (And I own a Sony STR9000DA super amazing amp/pre that is in storage - Powerful and clear with many functions.) 

 

Also I do think that your DAC may be holding your music back as well. Best scenario is to trial dacs out on your system, if that is possible. If not then try to discover what is within your price range and what your ear is liking by going to hifi shops or listening to other systems. (Covid Precautions are preventing normal social behaviours, I know...). 

 

Also what is your main listening source? Or sources? FLAC and then CD and then Vinyl? etc.. . That may help you to put energy and attention towards that avenue. 

 

I just listened to a system last week that I have heard before, and it had the brand new addition of a Solid State Class A/B amp.. Though the sound was very, very clear and powerful, it did not seem musical enough to me and I felt that the DAC was holding his system back.( It is an 8-10 year Cambridge Audio Dacmagic). My friend said he had just ordered a new DAC, the Denafrips Ares 2. He has it now and though I have not heard it he said it is miles beyond (super bueno) what he thought possible in his listening space. His system is completely computer FLAC/Wav . 

 

Also shielded power cables/RCA upgrades can support Bass, vocals, and overall soundstage. (It doesn't have to cost over 100 Euros each.)

 

'Hable con ella' is one of my favorite CD's, and one of my top audio system testers. 

Enjoy the music     Jonathan

 

 

Thanks for your comments, it is in the amplifier and in the DAC where I have doubts, the Sony STR-9000DA of yours I understand that it is not class D, I see that digital, class D and digital are not the same, class D is analog, many people confuse this.
Agree that it is best to try equipment at home, unfortunately here in Spain it is not widely accepted to try and return if it is not what you expected, it can be done but it is frowned upon.
My main source is Wav, FLAC and DSD files, some vinyl and almost no CD's.
I have looked at your recommendation of the DAC Denafrips Ares 2 and there is a diversity of opinions - as in everything - I would like to try it but you have to ask for it in Singapore and they do not accept returns.
My cables are of standard quality, from € 10 to € 20 bought on Amazon.

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2 hours ago, jeromelang said:

there are always many means to improve the sound of an audio system without spending money.

review your system setup to see if any areas that can be improved.

 

these are some of the things that i can think of, off the cuff:

 

- correct ac polarity

- the amplifier's power supply being fed directly from the wall mains

- segregating dirty electronics (like modem, set top boxes, TVs, AV sources) from audio components in the power grid

- correct signal flow directionality for all interconnect cables and speaker cables

- ensure no cable fasteners (plastic/metal strips) are still attached to any of the powercords, interconnect, and speaker cables

- placement of equipment relative to other equipment (to minimise magnetic interference)

- minimising the number of equipment count in a system

- minimising magnetic interferences from extraneous metallic items in the proximity of the audio system

- low vibration platforms for equipment to stand on (No stacking!!!)

- power on sequence for digital devices (transport => DAC)

- regular demag of the system

- experiment with grounding to reduce/eliminate parasite chassis leakage current

- and of course, speaker positioning and room acoustics

 

 

Thanks, I have been careful in the installation, I do not have polarity problems but I don't really have many power outlets near the equipment and I use multiple adapters, however with the Lenovo PC that I use as an audio source and with the amplifier at 100% volume I hear absolutely no noise with my ear literally pressed against the speakers.
I take care of the acoustics as much as possible, I have cushions, curtains, carpet and canvases on the walls.
As for the placement of the speakers I have done a lot of tests and I think I have them well optimized.

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4 hours ago, franlober said:

.....however with the Lenovo PC that I use as an audio source and with the amplifier at 100% volume I hear absolutely no noise with my ear literally pressed against the speakers....

Haha..., but the effects of dirty pollution on ac power supply mostly manifest as changes to the soundstaging projected by the system. It's something you can only properly perceive 2-3 metres away, sitting between the 2 speakers.

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15 hours ago, franlober said:

Thanks, I have been careful in the installation, I do not have polarity problems but I don't really have many power outlets near the equipment and I use multiple adapters, 

 

 

Was referring to AC polarity....

 

 

and whatever you do, it is imperative to have the amplifier plugged straight from the wall mains. 

 

And if the wall plug is a duplex, it is also worth the while checking which outlet sounds better....

Edited by jeromelang
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15 hours ago, franlober said:

I take care of the acoustics as much as possible, I have cushions, curtains, carpet and canvases on the walls.
 

 

By chance, do you happen to have any part of those curtains coming into contact with the dielectric materials of any of your interconnects and speaker cables....?

 

Dun laugh. 

 

This is a genuine sonic problem.

 

Cables' dielectric coming into physical contacts with fabric materials can have very detrimental sonic effects. 

 

Edited by jeromelang
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