Need help selecting a system with Tidal streaming (Maybe MQA) and speakers for around $1k.


Need some help getting this temp system purchased. In about 2 weeks will be moving to a small home in SoCal, then in 6 months back to Pacific NW apartment most likely for 5 months. My room sizes will be small to medium, 10x12-14ft. This will be my system for these two moves then possibly relegated to a bedroom/listed on this site once I get to a permanent location.

My main goal is to limit my expenditure (as I will need to upgrade my old system once I have a permanent place) and spend around $1k for this system. I’m new to digital but streaming seems the way to go so I don’t have to drag around CDs or LPs and I don’t have any high rate digital files, nor do I plan on purchasing many during my traversing the West Coast. I plan on streaming Tidal and was hoping MQA if that fits in the budget and the system is able to perform well enough to discern the MQA difference. I know I could use a computer as a source for this but don’t currently own one and there goes the budget if I purchase a new laptop.

I understand the $1k can be quite limiting and could stretch it a bit but would really like to stay in that ballpark. I started looking at powered speakers, Vanatoo One, Paradigm Shift A2, Audioengine A2+, A5+, HD6 and passives like HDP6, Elac B6, QAcousics 3020, Kef Q150, Monitor Audio Bronze 2, Warfedale Diamond 220 and Focal Aria 905 all because of size, price and recommendation. I haven’t listened to any of these except the Elacs. Not having the time now to listen to some/all these I am asking for some experienced, sage advice on the speakers and whole system direction. I am aware that stand mounted/bookshelf speakers will be a sacrifice in the deep bass( not a bass head anyway) but would like to have some accuracy and a good wide soundstage if possible.

That brings me to the source and I understand it’s based on if I go the powered vs passive speaker route. I’m not sure if it’s possible to go the passive speaker route and still get Tidal streaming and integrated amp for the budget stated. This is where I get stuck, so please respond with your ideas even if it’s to say it can’t be done for the budget I have.

BTW, I listen to mostly rock, jazz, blues, and classical in that order if that helps. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Thanks greatly for your input. Please let me know if this is in the wrong category, since it was about speakers and source wasn’t sure where to post.


one question I have is do you really need MQA in a Budget system that’s only temp? could save some there if you skip the MQA requirement.

Also no one seems to think out side the box here and pairing a streamer like the Oppo and a quality vintage receiver or integrated with some good new’er / used speakers you may get better sound then you think.

 I'd at least look in your area if there is an audio shop that caters to the used ie; vintage equipment. you may be surprised what is out there for reasonable money.

if your thinking new, good friend just got a set of Monitor Audio Bronze ( I believe) book shelf speakers, a Mies Audio integrated 50wch ( A/B) and that little integrated sound quite good and even has a descent MM phono section. with plenty of $ room for a streamer for under a grand.

Let's start at the source, forgetting MQA, what inexpensive devices will stream Tidal and other networks into a DAC? 

While I agree that MQA is still not quite solidified as 'better', some of the information in that link completely misses the point of MQA in my opinion.   It is not necessarily a replacement for hi-res and a good DAC, but a replacement for lower quality internet streams.  

I get kind of annoyed when I read comparisons of how MQA is no different than standard hi-res or things like that.  Of course it's not, when you get up to that level of resolution any differences are splitting hairs anyway.  That holds true for MQA vs existing hi-res as well as between different hi-res formats.  

The comparison that people should be making, which is the purpose of MQA to begin with, is, "does it sound better than a flac stream over tidal".  There are also a lot of people who choose not to stream flac because they cant hear a difference between 320 and flac.  So another relevant question is, "does MQA sound better than 320k"? 

So if MQA sounds no different than hi-res as is stated in your link, and hi-res is miles better than 320K (which I think we can all agree on), then by induction MQA will sound way better than 320K. 

And if it does sound way better then 320k, then 20 dollars a month get you access to an incredible number of hi-res files and the cost of entry for your component is.....600 dollars. 

If you already have all the files and the DACs and the gear, then yes, it might not make sense to get an additional MQA component.  But that person is not really the market here.  Reviewers having an existing hi-res setup concluding that MQA makes no sense are doing a bit of disservice to new hifi-ers that are starting to build a system for the first time in my opinion.

I just don't see how it makes sense to not go MQA if the plan is to stream tidal hifi...and especially considering that an MQA component will also let you do everything a non-MQA component will.

For those who think MQA might go away here is a list of companies backing the technology by offering it in their audio equipment....
BTW I would try to get a Node 2 and whatever power and speakers you choose.
-100 for the SONOS, complete junk! I thought this was a high end forum?

Matt M