New System From Scratch - Advice

ilxman99 -- Sun, 02/19/2012 - 15:09

I am building a new (modest) house from scratch and will thus build a combo music/HT system from scratch in the basement level. I have a host of questions that can’t reasonably be asked at once, and I don’t want to dominate the forum with long, convoluted posts. I hope to get some guidance on several areas but my plan is to deal with one topic at a time. I think this could be a great service to similarly situated people out there looking to build a new/different system from scratch but are overwhelmed by all the options and discussion aimed at people who already have mature systems. While I will cover widely disparate concerns a single forum like this one is best suited for people building new systems. My questions will be centered on the following areas; I will start with asking each question separately in this thread:

1)      Given a limited leftover budget, what are the most cost effective items to add at the building stage? Room dimensions (“golden ratio”)? Cheap sound treatments to add behind drywall? Electrical upgrades? Are there cheap built-in power conditioners out there?

2)      Given remaining budget, speakers will be Maggie 1.7 vs. DefTech BP1040 vs. Triton 2/3. Experiences/opinions from those who’ve heard at least 2 of the above? CM, are u there?

3)      Since I’m music-first, I’m having trouble with system architecture. Source will be NAS/computer via Ethernet. Looking at integrated w/HT passthrough+dac +HT receiver  vs. Combo DAC/Pre w/ HT passthrough + HT receiver vs. HT Prepro w/Ethernet input + multich amp vs. NAD combo digital pre/dac/amp box w/HDMI output + HT receiver vs. Parasound P-7 analog multich pre + Oppo 95 player + multich amp

4)      Cost effective cables + power conditioner + tweaks

ilxman99 -- Sun, 02/19/2012 - 15:13

OK, topic #1: What are the key cost-effective items I should be telling the builder to include with audiophile music/HT in mind? I'm thinking a) room dimensions (but there isn't a lot of give here); b) key built-in room treatments; c) electrical issues. Key point is best bang-for-limited-buck. Thanks.

mofungoo -- Thu, 03/08/2012 - 13:31

You can eliminate many AC power related issues by going to balanced power. You will need a center tapped 1:1 isolation transformer and a double pole breaker, cost about $300. If you use the existing wiring an electrician can install it for about $125, a little more if you pull new wire. This is what hospitals, recording and TV studios, and large scale computer installations use to eliminate power line noise issues.
Move your speakers and listening chair around until you get good results. Try a lot of locations and don't get in a hurry as this is a very important step and will determine if and how much acoustic treatment is needed.
As far as acoustic treatments are concerned, first put your equipment and furniture in the room and give it a listen. Have someone move along the walls with a mirror to locate early reflection points. They will be where you can see the speaker in the mirror, and that is where some high frequency absorption will need to be placed. Some drapes or the like can be placed there cheaply, or you can buy some acoustic absorption panels. Diffusion can be placed at the rear half of the room and can be something like bookshelves with record albums, books, etc. or diffusion panels. An area rug or carpeting will take care of floor bounce and acoustic tiles can be put on the ceiling.

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