Help with Audio Jigsaw Puzzle Please

I have a very small room (10x10) that could use a secondary system.  I just stream.  I have a smattering of existing unused equipment, and with the rapid introduction of new multiple-things-in-one products, I am not sure how best to finish off a system.  Emphasis on sound quality first, then simplicity and flexibility. I want to spend no more than $2K, but would go higher for really good solution.  The puzzle pieces:

Assume streaming only.

I have an unused Bryston BDP-1 STREAMER (no DAC or Pre).  Old but good sounding streamer (a little clunky to configure and use).

I have unused Elac Navis ARB51 powered speakers - quite good for their size/price in wired connection mode.
I have an unused higher end Lampizator DAC (no volume contol).  

I don't have a preamp (I do - a brand new ARC 6se - but it is for sale and would be overkill for this system)

(I also don't have Roon core.  I like Roon, but can stream Tidal or Qobuz through the Bryston and may forego yet another link in chain (Roon core)).

What to do, what to do.  I *could* get a decent preamp, but that results in a non-compact system (streamer + dac + pre + powered speakers) that still culminates in little bookshelf speakers. 

I could get an all-in-one streamer/DAC/preamp, which would make for a very simple, compact little system, but would waste the SQ uplift of the unused Lampizator (.....unless the all-in-one allows use of external DAC...and routing out to external DAC and then back in does not defeat the SQ benefit of external DAC)

Similarly, I could get an everything-in-one streaming integrated (used Hegel?) which presents the same DAC in-and-out issue as above, but then powered speakers don't fit/work - would need to dump the Elacs and shop for passives.

You get the picture - how best play these cards for best system for the money?



You pretty much need a DAC with remote volume. There are plenty available (small and inexpensive) at that sound great with the Elacs.

Buy a $50 passive volume control/preamp from Schiit and set up the system.

Go from there.



What is your main system? It would be really helpful to see where you are coming from. There is a place under your UserID to place photos and ID the components.

What are your objectives? What is your personality like. Do you really appreciate outstanding sound and just can’t leave it alone. How often will this other system be used? Would you like it carefully crafted… sounds like not. Are you willing to put lots of time into carefully crafting the sound? What do you want it to sound like?


Lots of folks want to make their second system a statement. I really like my second system (office): Totem speakers, PrimaLuna integrated amp, Schiit DAC… punchy, fun system… I put it together very carefully… but for much less than my main or headphone system.



On one end of the spectrum you can sell all your stuff and get a Linn DSM, a single box… does everything… or as much as you want.

It is seldom a kinda random collection of stuff is going to sound great for the investment.

@ghdprentice, dammit, you are going to make me be thoughtful about this, and formalize some philosophy?? :-)  Thanks for the prodding, I will do better.   Is the place to post main system pictures "Virtual Systems?"

The rest if the group seems to be saying: Get on with purchasing your preamp, which makes me wish I had held on to my Topping Pre90.....

Second the LTA MZ2, but really I was thinking more generally of any good headphone amp with preamp out and remote volume. I’ve been getting more into headphones since I bought an MZ3 (the MZ2’s bigger brother) to use as a preamp (and surprisingly as an integrated). While headphones present differently than speakers, they do effectively eliminate any room issues. It can add another option to your listening. The new Schiit Kara looks interesting if you want to stick to SS.

@mathiasmingus ....*G* Off the bat, your system doesn’t seem all that complex and/or obtuse to me....If complex is your fear, come over to my environs....

You’d be arrested for running so fast from a given point....;)

Just kidding and a tease....*S*

Actually, since no pre....I’d opt for @dekay s’ suggest.....if just dB +/- is the desire...

(I don’t have a pre ’in system’ currently, nor for quite awhile...have a Really Nice One now, but the revamp of all? *phew*)

My dance card is long enough at this moment....*L*

The Matrix Element X2 is an integrated streamer + DAC + preamp.  It has a front panel volume control knob as well as an IR remote control.  It has analog as well as digital inputs, so I would think that (if you're not satisfied with its own  DAC) you could loop in the Lampizator.  

What's your budget?  A new X2 runs about $4400 new. Or, maybe a Bluesound Node X ($749) would work?  It, too, has an analog input, but not the standard dual right/left RCA inputs.  Its DAC is based on the ESS 9028Q2M chip. I believe an IR remote is included.


If you use the powered speakers with the dac/streamer, try turning the volume wide open on the speakers and control the volume from the preamp. I use a similar setup and this made a big difference for me. 

Good luck!


I have a SP9 MKll that I’ll trade you for the 6se. 
We all know that 9 is a bigger number than 6.😁


2nd system, small room

Equipment: I would seek simplicity of use, anything decent will produce a great signal to your speakers.

What speakers, where they are located, and how their output works in that space are the key factors in any room, including a small room perhaps with less placement options. Square rooms are not ideal of course.

My 2nd system is in my office. Very frequent and long use for 20 years as self-employed business (many days: early morning, all day, evenings, some weekends). The last 15 years as semi-retired and fully retired, use every day, but far less hours per day.

For 30 of those years, I had cherished old pieces going, but no ideal speaker location or matching the speaker’s output to the space.

5 years ago, I decided to change everything for improved location, imaging, adjust/balance the speaker’s frequency output.

Modify bookcases for speaker location; modify desk for center location for imaging; true bookcase speakers (size/no ports/horizontal placement if small room); level controls to balance frequencies in the room, specifically at my desk chair.


Prior New Arrangement: Wharfedale Diamonds (no level controls on speakers)




Changed to Restored AR-2ax, level controls more frequent back then. (sorry about the pic quality)


Finally back to Tube Sound, very little heat using Little Luxman 10wpc

Bookcase depth for 11” deep bookcase speakers; slightly overhanging top for equipment/wires behind; height: high enough for speakers at seated ear level/top low enough for ideal operating height of Vertical TT and Reel to Reel. Note: I had the Teac ‘micky mouse’ dust cover for years, finally got to use it when unit is vertical.

Speakers: Vintage with Level Controls, allows individual adjustments l/r. I restored a pair of AR-2ax for my garage/shop. Nostalgia, had them when in college. Sounded so good I moved them here and bought a second pair for downstairs.

Left speaker close to wall, right speaker no wall is an issue, minimized by speaker level controls combined with Luxman Balance Control, i.e. combo of frequency adjustment and l/r volume for center imaging.


USE: Prior, or now: I listen to listen, not background sound, so it was/is infrequent use while in here. New arrangement, especially imaging is truly enjoyable, like never before. ‘Background”: I enjoy streaming Pandora to discover ‘new to me’ artists, and I purposely spend some time, here and downstairs jumping around finding Music Videos, which also leads to ‘new to me’ artists.

As I started by saying: any decent equipment makes a very small difference compared to the speakers and the room’s arrangement, thus go for simplicity of use, perhaps achieve visibility of cherished vintage equipment.



😊… yes, you create a virtual system. After you get in there, it is easy.

’Create System’, I ended up with 4 so far.*65ii60*_ga*NTY0MzMyMDE2LjE2OTEzMzI0MDM.*_ga_SR0PMVVEN1*MTY5NTU5ODAwOC40MS4wLjE2OTU1OTgwMTMuNTUuMC4w

Once photos are in the system, then you can insert them in a post as I did above.

1. Photo must be online, not on your computer.

2. go to any online photo (anywhere online), right click, Copy Image Address (not copy the photo)

3. back to your post box: 6th icon top line, click the icon of IMAGE.

4. a box appears, waiting for you to paste the Image Address you copied, URL: paste it

5. The image appears in your post.

i.e. rebuilding the AR-2ax Level Controls (from my virtual system on this site)


i.e. from Hifishark, to US Audio Mart: innards of a Jolida tube preamp


+1 on the Schitt Sys, or look at their Vali or Valhalla for some tube love.  The 1st two have  a very small form factor.

I did the same thing you’re doing a few years ago.  Everything I used came out of my closet, at least in the beginning.  That turned out to be the problem which I’ll get to next.  First off, I would keep your ARC preamp.  It’s the heart of your system. It’s also something to build on, even thought that’s not your objective “now”.  Plus you’ll probably end up selling it for less than it’s worth just to have the funds to buy a lesser preamp.  Now the problem, at least it was for me.  Shortly after setting up my bedroom system, I started getting the upgrade bug.  You say to yourself it won’t happen, but it does.  It’s kinda hardwired in our brains.  Then I don’t have to tell you what comes next.  Do yourself a favor and keep your ARC preamp.  It will only save you money in the long run.

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