Guidance for a college student...


I've been reading these forums for over a year now and have picked up tons of great info. My current question for the community is how to proceed with my system once I will be leaving school.

My current system consists of modest and portable components that are fairly simple to transport when moving time comes ~4x per year (I can't be without my gear over winter break).

The signal chain...
Denon DVD-900 ->
Cardas High Speed Digital Coax ->
NAD T742 Receiver ->
Star-Quad 4S11 Speaker Wire ->
Wharfedale Diamond 8.3 Speakers (and bipolars)

My proposal... Eliminate the multichannel system for now. I want to start a better quality 2 channel system and possibly get into surround again later. I will either be in law school or an aerospace job in this coming fall and my budget will depend on which of the two options I pursue.

With CD as my main source, I have been giving thought to a Shanling T-100 or Wadia 830 source going straight to power amp(s). Given that I would like to preserve DVD capability, I am currently favoring the 830 with digital inputs (assuming this would accept a PCM signal - although I am aware that not all DVDs even have this). If this is feasable, I would buy a good amp or perhaps 2 Norh Le Amp IIs that I have read about or a comprably priced amp here on audiogon. For the time I would keep my adequate Diamond 8.3s and upgrade speakers after I became comfortable with the rest of my equipment.

Aside from the potential incompatibility of the digital output of a DVD with the 830's digital input does anyone see any obvious flaws or better uses of money to build a simple 2 channel system that does CD and DVD acceptably (i.e. some DVDs may not have an output that the 830 can decode - assuming the 830 even accepts PCM which I would assume it does).

Do any DVD players exist with good enough sound to function as a CD source within the budget of other components I mentioned (and if so is this a better option considering I'd need a pre or integrated that I would not need with a Wadia).

For some idea of a budget to consider when suggesting alternatives. (I would keep current DVD player if I had an 830).

Used Wadia 830 ~$1700
Norh Le Amp II ~$600 ($300X2) - I'm very suspect of how cheaply these can be sold. Despite the lack of info on this forum they seem to be well liked elsewhere.

I will worry about digital/speaker cables later, but my main concern is the possibility of an int-amp and DVD player (or seperate DVD/CD players) that could compete for ~$2300. I think the budget squeeze comes in when considering analog cabling for the associate CD and DVD player. Am I foolish to keep the modest speakers in the system? - I've consistently noticed that I get better sound throwing money at electronics than speakers (to a point obviously).

I understand I've presented a lot of info and questions here, so thank you in advance for any responses I may receive. Part of my thoroughness was in an attempt to avoid a generic "What's the best amp and CD player for $2300" when such subjects have been beaten to death. I also think that such a system as I have proposed may be of interest to other users (simple high quality CD and possibly reasonable sound from DVD as well). If I didn't enjoy concert DVDs so much this wouldn't be a concern
Well it looks like the Wadia inputs support 48k, 44.1k, and 32k inputs (at up to 24bit word length, I assume). See That is going to be what your DVD player with output. PCM at either 48k or 96k and up to 24bit word length. I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong. You DVD player's set up menus should have settings to enable folddown of the output to PCM. My Panasonic RP82 does. I imagine your Denon does too.

As for your electronics vs. loudspeaker inquiry. I feel it is a rare day when one spends less on his amplifiers than on his speakers. my $0.02, YMMV.

I don't know anything about Norh, but I would consider something else. But that's just me. Soemtimes you see a McCormack DNA-1 dx for $600. The Audio Alchemy OM-150 for $400 right now would be decent - but I'd research the reliability first. AA is out of business. The one I sold broke about 6 months later. $400 is an OK price for that amp. Also consider the old standby - an Adcom gfa555II. ALso saw an N.E.W. 20.1 class A amp in the classifieds. Though you may not be satisfied with 20 watts.

I would think the McCormack to be the best of the bunch and Steve McCormack has a bunch of upgrades available for his older amps. Either that, or pick something that resells well.
sell all your gear and buy a ipod...

try to forget you ever had a encounter with high end stereo's.

it is a horible sickness and addiction that is like a dog chasing its tail....

run away from the light.... ( i am serious on this).it will be a never ending upgrade process for the rest of your life.

hope i helped...
Aroc, Ive heard the DNA1 before, I think the Le amp are
better,The Audio Alchemy OM 150,is not comparable
to the Le amp,The Le amp monos are very close to my Plinius
SA100,they are good. But they dont know them here at
Agon,Check think
they also have forum there.IMO
What is your field of study?

Engineering : get a digital power amp, driven from your PC.

Business management and Marketing: get Bose.

History and Archiology: get a LP turntable, preamp, etc.

Theology: get tube equipment.

Med school: MacIntosh (what else?)

Law school: I decline to answer.

Political Science: multichannel, and distortion doesn't matter.
I would opt for even more simplicity...a Linn Classik system(amp and cd)...mated with some Linn Kutans or Epos speakers....good luck...a classic, simple Brit system...but highly musical...and designed for smaller rooms...
The NAD T742 isn't actually that bad for two channel - its comparable to NAD's integrateds in that regard. I own a NAD C350 and the dealer I bought it from was a B&W/Wharfdale dealer - and a lot of people were quite happy with NAD amplification for theirs, as I am for my Quad 21Ls (atleast for now ;)

The WADIA will accept a PCM signal but not bitstream therefore you'll forgoe DTS. I miss DTS a great deal having gone from Multichannel to two-channel.

UHF Mag (and I agree with them) beleives its all about the source. It doesn't matter how good your downstream components are if they are being fed 'crap'. Move to a better CD player before you make a change in amplifier and be sure to audition before you make any change as well.

A modded Denon 2900 or 5900 would likely fit the bill regarding a DVD source capable of providing you with a satisfactory multi-format experience.
I'd like to thank everyone for their responses thus far. I am investigating all of the suggestions to see what best suits my needs. Thankfully I have a couple months to look around and listen.

I agree with the above post about the T742, but in my opinion it lacked a little bit of power across the frequency range, coming up just a bit short in the bass department. I currently have the T742 swapped out in favor of a 1987 NAD 7250PE fed by analog outputs of my Denon player. Despite the slight loss of detail and air going from the supurb digital output to the analog outputs, I am more satisfied as a whole with the system as it sits. I also agree with the statement about the importance of a quality source, but my $99 refurb Denon DVD-900 absolutely smoked $700 and $300 NAD players as a transport. I previously used an NAD T550 and T531 player for about a year each for transport duty. I am hoping that the Denon (or perhaps a sturdier Denon or similar player) can continue to feed the digital input on something like a Wadia 830 with its low jitter signal for DVD use and leave pure music duty to the Wadia 830.

Another question for the A-Gon experts:
If I would use an amp such as the Le Amp II (used here as an example because it has XLR and RCA inputs).

I may be sharing a place with my friend. Would it be acceptable to plug the preamp outputs of his 6.1 receiver into the RCA outputs of the Le Amp II monos (or any otehr dual input amp) while feeding XLR inputs with the Wadia? I am envisioning a system such as this...(basically processing the signals in parallel - assuming it works the only downside I can see is having to enable bitstream on the DVD player when I want to pass PCM to the Wadia 830)

----/coax-bnc-> Wadia 830 -> XLR to Amp \
----\toslink->receiver->receiver to Amp/
_____________________pre (RCA)

(sorry for the akward formatting but the posting applet wasn't recognizing spaces when I "previewed")

Is this a bad idea (will something blow if the monos receive RCA and XLR signals simultaneously)? What other bad consequences are forseen by those more knowledgable than myself?

This would give my potential roommate and I DD/DTS for movies when desired but still provide a good CD platform.

Thanks to all for help and suggestions.
Take the aerospace job. Lawyers are a dime a dozen, and new lawyer wannabees fresh out of law school are 2 cents per hundred thousand, at the most!
Believe me; I know!
Bigpowerballs...Obviously you are not an aerospace engineer. I am, and one of my sons is a lawyer/investment banker.
"Fresh out of law school" (about 15 years ago) his starting salary was 25 percent higher than what I was making after a quite successful 35 years on the job.