I’m looking for advice from anyone who has a system like mine that avoids using traditional speaker wire and traditional amplifiers and pre-amplifiers in favor of USB/Ethernet connections between components: I have a SonicTransporter AP 8TB (Roon Server), 3 microRendus (iFi 9v iPower) and 2 pairs of KEF X300As and am looking for alternatives to the KEF X300As. I am not unhappy with the KEFs but am interested in trying out an alternative. I’m frankly stunned that there are not more powered USB speakers with built-in DACs. Am I missing some? It is only because of Andrew Gillis at Small Green Computer that I even learned of the KEFs and that I could bypass traditional speakers/speaker wire and traditional (_i.e., _separate) amplifiers, pre-amplifiers and DACs.
Andrew pointed me to one alternative: a micromega speaker that he said was more powerful than the KEFs – http://micromega.com/en/products/my-range/myspeaker-myamp-inside/. I live in NY and there are only two dealers that this company works with, neither of which have the speakers in stock for me to hear. Does any one actually own these speakers, or heard them before?
Internet research also led me to the Yamaha NX-N500 which are described as “network powered speakers with built-in amplifier / USB DAC / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth / hi-res sound source corresponding (left and right pair).” But I have also had difficulty finding a dealer that carries the speakers and the literature I’ve found describes these speakers as a “Japan domestic product,” as if not intended for the U.S. market?
Why is there such slim pickings out there? I’d think there would be many more people who want multi-room audio interested in avoiding wiring their homes with traditional speakers and buying a veritable rack worth of separate amplifiers, preamps and DACs when all one needs is a SonicTransporter, a Microrendu and speakers like the KEFs.
These don’t have USB in, it’s optical, RCA or wi-fi/bluetooth. DARKO liked them though. http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Powered-Speaker-Systems/HD6-Powered-Speakers
I guess you know that KEF now has a version of the LS50 that are wireless? I have the X300A also and would love to try out the LS50 Wireless but the price tag is keeping me away right now.
I’m really looking forward to some user reviews of the LS50 wireless.
But I’m informed (by Andrew at Small Green Computer) that the Transporter/Microrendu set-up doesn’t work with wireless. It requires a USB connection from the Rendu to one of the speakers (which are connected to each other by a separate USB) and a hard-wire ethernet connection back to the Transporter core/server. The only thing (as I understand it) that can be wireless is the remotes - such as an Android (which I use) or an iphone. Can anyone confirm/explain why the LS50s wouldn’t work for my setup?
There are a few different speakers with USB inputs. Here is another one.
You do need to have Ethernet in the location for the microRendu or Sonicorbiter SE. You can use HomePlug for this if you don’t want to run wires.
There are also some great mesh networks coming out these days from Google and other that allow you to “bridge” Ethernet over high quality wireless.
Klipsch R-15PM. A decent bookshelf speaker w/50 watt amp and 192khz. DAC. Multiple input options and Bluetooth. Sonically speaking, probably in the same ballpark as Kefs. I have a pair in my home office.
There is also the audioengine A2+ and A5+
Not sure if this helps.
I’m using Dynaudio Focus 200 XD powered speakers, built in dac 192/24 rca spidif input (no usb) and a analog input with my microrendu and hiFace Two - M2Tech adapter.(converts usb to rca spidif)
They make 3 models of Focus XD…mine is the lowest end at list price of $7000.00
I have the LS50W. And I love it. The sound quality is amazing. To give you an idea how good it sounds, I owned a Devialet Le200 and the passive LS50, and I find the LS50W performs equally well, if not better. And, one less box. No matching speaker cables required, too. Built in DSP to adjust for stand/desk environment is really easy to tune to your environment. For USD2000, it is a gem. Highly recommended.
Gary, thanks. Since I posted, thanks to Michael Keefe (see above), I realize that the LS50W have USB inputs and have been reading up on them.
Perhaps you and anyone else out there that has purchased them can tell me what other capabilities they have that are of practical value to someone like me using Roon but interested in other ways I could use them: for example, can they be hooked up to a smart TV to bypass it’s built-in speaker?
Gary, you note “No matching speaker cables required, too?” - am I correct in understanding that you need to run a CAT6 cable between the speakers? Also, are you using any of Small Green Computers’ products - like the Sonictransporter or the microRendu or sonic orbiter?
Final question to any and all: I’ve done some internet research reading and am confused by “gapless playback” which is apparently a feature KEF didn’t incorporate, which has depressed some otherwise enthusiastic consumers, but which John Darko, a reviewer with one of the audiophile magazines, seems to say he gets around by using Roon. Could anyone explain this to me in babytalk?
Gapless playback is where there is no interruption in the stream between tracks when playing music, particularly on a single CD. If the tracks run into each other without any silence then something without gap less playback would introduce a gap or in the case of my Teac UD H01 the relays that determine incoming bit rate click or chatter between tracks.
Yes, you can have a NUC running Roonserver and connect USB cable (KEF provided) to the LS50W.
I connect my chromecast audio via 3.5mm to RCA cable to the LS50W, too.
And, I connect my Sonos ZP80 via toslink to it. Similarly, if your TV has optical output, I believe you can get your TV sound playing on LS50W. You can also use Bluetooth to stream music to it. Last, you can also stream DLNA music to it by using KEF app, but as you have already known, no gapless play.
With Passive speakers, you may have to buy matching speaker’s cable connecting them to your power amplifier. And this usually in a trial and error effort. LS50W has built-in power amp, preamp, and dac which are factory optimized for the best sound matching possible. And, yes, you have to connect the right speaker to the left one with a cat6 ethernet cable, which is included.
I use Meridian DSP8000. They are digital in, amplified, with digital crossovers and DSP. The speakers themselves use SPDIF, I have a control amp that does USB. Very nice. But they are large and costly, not comparable.
I’m intrigued by the Kii but haven’t heard them.
Late to the party, but B&W MM-1 speakers work fine for me on Roon.They might have been released some years ago, but Roon sees them and I like the sound.