Opinions on my first dive into Higher End Audio Gear

Discussion in 'Equipment Reviews & Opinions' started by cptdavious, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. cptdavious

    cptdavious New Member

    Hello Everyone...this is my first post on these forums. I truly appreciate all the information you share, and hope you can help me out.

    I am a technical person I have always been into music, and electronics but higher end audio is something new for me. I don't have much listening experience on higher end gear, and dont really have places near me to test things out. For this reason I am basing much of my opinion on reviews (official) and real world opinions. I know everyone's opinion is subjective, however there is generally common ground with quality gear. I am hoping you guys can help me out with my initial "plunge" ...

    Here is my situation:
    1. I have a budget of about 1000$ - I want to start slow and cheap so I can learn what I like without wasting money.
    2. I prefer to go separates because I like to customize, and would like to start with basic quality components (preamp, power amp), then tack on later
    3. I prefer USA made, or boutique made. In other words no China factory stuff. I am really into the Schiit stuff, based on the value for the money and reviews.
    4. I already have speakers, turntable, and Mani phono pre-amp all hooked up to an old Realistic SS receiver Ive had for years. I am looking to do some core upgrades for now.
    5. I would like a DAC to mess with high res audio. But I dont need one initially (see point 2)
    6. All of the above is flexible to some degree :)
    Option 1:
    Based on all of this, and based on a few months of obsessive research I set my heart on Schiit Vidar, and Saga combo. Just simple affordable quality components. It fits.

    Option 2:
    Lately I have been thinking to go vintage (cheap) on the power amp (adcom 535/545/555, or hafler 120/200) to save some money initially then add a Saga or maybe even the Freya. I understand the maintenance required for old gear, but accept it (I am pretty technical). This option could leave room for a Schiit entry DAC. I figure it would sound great, get me started, and I can upgrade down the road when my budget frees up again.

    Option 3:
    Here is the monkey wrench ... In my local ads I found a Rogue Audio Cronus (55wpc non Magnum) for 800$. I am going to check it out, and I may be able to work the price. This integrated amp has solid reviews, and I bet it sounds great. This will be for a small room, so I am sure it will be powerful enough. It is not a separate but I could always use it as a preamp in the future. I also figure for 800$ i could always get at least 75% of my money back out of it if I wanted to dump it. I am a little skeptical about no tone controls, and the different sound tubes will bring. I admire that on the Freya/Saga I can switch off the tubes, and would love if the Rogue had this. I like that the Rogue can be upgraded to magnum version. This seems to be a good deal for my first plunge, but wonder if I am better off with a Freya based system.

    Anyway that's my situation. I would love to hear your opinions.


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  2. PRESSON100

    PRESSON100 Member

    If you are technical, I would recommend you build the honeybadger amplifier that is described in detail on the DIY site. With the budget you have, that would allow you to have enough left over for a Tandberg 3008 preamp. That would be a top notch system. You can sometimes pick up the 3008 for 350$.
    sgleich likes this.
  3. cptdavious

    cptdavious New Member

    Very interesting...I am going to look more into the honeybadger. I would see it being more of a long term project though.

    Any opinions on the Rogue Cronus vs going the Schiit route?
  4. PRESSON100

    PRESSON100 Member

    If you are going to join the high end, in general, most of us use separates. Not to say an integrated cannot sound great, but usually, I prefer separates.
  5. Jailtime

    Jailtime Standin' on a corner Subscriber

    Velva ND
    I really liked the Cronus Magnum I heard. It was on the short list of integrated amps I wanted, with nearly the same criteria that you have.

    I went with a Schiit Freya preamp and Quicksilver amplifiers, so I'll let you know what I think of the Freya once it gets here. If I remember. :D
  6. Tiver

    Tiver Enjoy the music Subscriber

    Honeoye Falls, NY
    If you want to start slow and cheap to avoid wasting money, never buy anything for more than you can sell it for (at least hope to). That will certainly help to keep things slow. You should be able to have a good experience for $1K. There will likely always be something for a few dollars more.

    I am looking at the Mav DAC2. I see they have a little integrated that matches (matches the DAC1 as well). Looks interesting and it's not a pile of cash. It is Chinese.

    I don't know what speakers you are using, but not all gear will perform optimally with all other gear. Power hungry speakers can shine with the proper power, but will sorely disappoint if the amp can't put out. And some music is good for the music, but lacks dynamics in the recording. This music is great to listen to, but isn't great for evaluating gear IMO.

    If you can get into any kind of listening space to experience more gear, it will help you identify a sonic signature you favor. This is easiest when you have some go-to music you use for evaluation of gear. If you can identify such, you can then read reviewers comments with more relevance to what you seek.


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  7. cptdavious

    cptdavious New Member

    Thanks everyone for the advice (build your own, quicksilver amps, avoid wasting money). The seller backed out on the Cronus, and I still haven't purchased anything, but have been doing a ton of window shopping and research. One thing I realized is that just because I buy something, dosnt mean I have to keep it forever. To Tiver's point, as long as I can get most of my money back out, I get the gear that meets the current budget, then move on later down the road.

    I will let you know what I end up doing.
  8. Silentnet

    Silentnet I like to keep my issues drawn... Subscriber

    Charleston, SC
    What speakers?

    Look in to the Emotiva PT-100 -- solid/clean pre-amp and phono section, excellent intigrated DAC that can easily be bypassed if/when you want to try others.

    I've been very happy with it, along with an Adcom GFA-555, which I know you were considering already.
  9. mkane

    mkane AK Subscriber Subscriber

    103 miles N. of S.F.
    DIY all the way. Amps, pre amp, phono pre & speakers
  10. The Fuxtor

    The Fuxtor AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Calgary, Alberta
    Go for the Shiit Vidar!! I have the Saga and its very good, but paired with a Vidar i bet is a nice combo, and further up the road if you decide you like the pairing, you could mono block a pair for further upgrade!!
  11. trinhsman

    trinhsman AK Subscriber Subscriber

    On a lake in Georgia
    If the Rogue is right, it’s a no brainer IMHO.


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  12. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Española NM
    Regarding option #2: I liked my Hafler DH-220 more than my Adcom 535. It was smoother, and easier on my ears. May have been just those particular examples.

    Question: Do you like your Mani better than your Realistic phono stage? Just curious.

    You seem intent on getting a preamp/poweramp combo as your next purchase. An alternative would be to just get a chip amp for now, if you decide on another direction next. Just an idea.

    Or get a Hafler power amp, and construct a DIY passive preamp using magnetic attenuation: http://www.intactaudio.com/atten.html

    I'll stop rambling now, just one more name drop: Magnepan

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