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Speakers/DAC for Rotel RA-10

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Hey everyone,


I'm looking at buying a system for a large room 7 x 9m (3.5m high) to sit on a bookshelf 1.2 metres from the ground, slightly off centre one of the walls. Slate floor, but lots of rugs and furniture to absorb sound. Used for both dedicated listening and background music. 


I'm drawn to the Rotel RA-10 because of it's simple analog aesthetic and the phono stage. Feel free to suggest anything you think would be better, I realise there are amps with DACs and airplay built in.


The sources I'll be using to send audio are:

  • a turntable 
  • an old iMac with a DAC (I do not have a DAC yet) 
  • airplay from my laptop (considering an airport express as I need a wifi repeater anyway)


I'm happy to spend around $1500 in total - amp, speakers, DAC, turntable . Second hand is fine.


Appreciate any advice!



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Me again. You will get more options second hand, but one possibility that came to mind was powered speakers.

John Darko at digitalaudioreview.net sometimes suggests setups for around the $1500 mark - see for instance this one: http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2015/11/audioengines-hd6-bring-affordable-audio-to-real-people/, also reviewed at: http://www.cnet.com/news/listen-here-audioengines-brilliant-new-hd6-speaker/

I don't know Australian availability, sadly some great hifi products don't have local distributors, but another possible direction nonetheless.

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Thanks Ant, these look beautiful, I hadn't considered powered speakers. I'll have a look through the StereoNet archives for their pros and cons.


So in this case you wouldn't have an amplifier? I wouldn't be able to send audio from 3 sources then?

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Good question. The "FAQ" tab for that product on the manufacturer's site goes a long way to answering the questions I had (http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Powered-Speaker-Systems/HD6-WAL-Powered-Speakers), and I suspect yours as well. It looks promising - but note you would need a phono pre-amp (or a turntable with a built in one) to get the signal strength up for the speaker input.


That said, I can't be sure it matches all your input needs and I think you're right to 100% check this solution does the job for you before buying. The manufacturer might be able to help if you email your specific question. If there is a distributor of the product near you, hopefully they'll be prepared to really test how it works for your combination of inputs.


Also, "good sound" is extremely subjective ... try to listen before you buy (frustrating in Australia, as retail outlets for some products can be hard to find)!


Finally, if you're looking to tinker and upgrade individual components later, remember that this limits some of those options.




As for the more conventional route of different components, there are heaps of options - and probably some which would could pip the powered speakers in sound quality (albeit with more wires and less aesthetic appeal!)


The Rotel RA10/11/12s have a lot of flexibility (like I said, my main concern would be the power of the RA10). But, maybe you could use a Dragonfly or similar DAC (see http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/04/go-anywhere-with-audioquests-dragonfly-black/) from your iMac, assuming it's got the right outputs? The Dragonfly for instance is well reviewed and under A$200.


Note that integrated amps under, say, $1500 are trying to do a lot and can generally only afford to have entry-level DACs anyway - I've noticed in forums that many people have said the inbuilt DACs in their integrated amplifiers are no better (and maybe worse) than the best standalone budget DACs, like the Dragonfly.


So, if you did use an external DAC, you'd probably not sacrifice any quality there, and your budget (and second hand) amplifier options would widen significantly. And you could then focus on the speaker, amplifier and turntable combination that sounds best -- that is, to your ears!


Good luck, have fun building your system, and let us know how you go.  :thumb:

Edited by Tone Malone
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