What to upgrade?

Hi, I have Apple TV 3rd gen, arcam r DAC, naim nait3, epos 11, rel quake. Everything is working well and sounds pretty good. Source is Sony tv with optical out to r DAC, iPads and iPhones wireless to Apple TV into Sony tv etc. What should I look at upgrading first? I don’t want to spend £1000’s so second hand is probably what I’d be looking at. I had acoustic energy evo 1’s and I preferred the sibilants on them but the epos 11’s are more balanced overall, especially with the sub. I have the speakers on a shelf against the wall with foam plugs in the holes. Any ideas?

A bigger, newer Nait…?

If everything goes in via the tv, then I’d look at a “better” (more convenient?) streamer that can still take airplay from your iPads, and go direct into the nait.
I think the newest Cambridge audio models can do that, plus you could subscribe to tidal or qobuz and stream direct instead of via iPad airplay.

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Apple TV 3 still had optical out from memory - have you tried that direct via optical to the rDAC? (Simply as you don’t know what the TV is mucking around with audio processing wise).

You’d still be able to Airplay to it.

I think my current system is loud enough for my room. Is newer going to sound better?

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I think I want one of those now! It would replace the Apple TV and r DAC whilst giving me volume control. £899 is a lot of money though. My concern would be that any streaming device is likely to become obsolete as technology moves on. Do you think the sound quality would be greatly improved over the r DAC? I find it hard to imagine the improvement would be proportional to the extra cost. Even a second hand vxn v2 is about £500-£600. I suppose I’ll need to spend at least that to get a significant improvement. Thanks for the recommendation.

Apple TV does have optical but r DAC has only one input.
Sony kd -65xf9005 TV is newer than Apple TV so I use it as source for YouTube and other apps. Will probably either get a new Apple TV which hopefully won’t glitch as much as the old one but might not improve sound quality much, or splash the cash on the Cambridge audio streamer recommended above or something similar.

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I’m using a 3 core mains cable to connect the sub to speakers. Is it worth spending £25 or more on a sub cable? Tried connecting sub to nait 3 as recommended by rel but definitely sounds better connected to speakers. I have either naim or linn speaker cable, can’t remember which now.

The Apple TV 4k is my main AV source for viewing ( a few years old now).

They no longer have optical out these days which is s shame, but suspect you are using HDMI for audio/video anyway with the Sony.

Looks like 3 options for me:

a) above mentioned Cambridge streamer
b) Chord Qutest dac upgrade
c) mains upgrade - block, cable etc.

Any cheap cable is fine for connecting to the speakers, so I would stick with what you’ve got. The reason for connecting to the speakers instead of the amp is that there is no adverse effect on the amp output if the sub cable is not directly attached to it.
I’m surprised Rel recommended that you connect to the amp, as they are certainly aware of this issue.

Yes, hdmi out of Apple TV to Sony kd65xf9005. I’m not sure if Sony tv has more than one optical input, would that be preferable to hdmi if possible? Are the 4K Apple TV versions 1, 2&3 better for sound quality than my old 3rd generation or just picture improvement?

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The chord DAC looks less appealing than the Cambridge audio streamer with built in DAC. Difficult to know without hearing them. The Cambridge streamer is big and visible, where as the Apple TV 4K would not be noticeable in the shadows of the shelf next to my humax hdr.

What do you mean about mains upgrade? Is that going to make an audible difference? I’ve heard of people spending £100s on power supplies but I’m sceptical of their worth. I use a surge protected mains extension with 6 sockets. All the above are plugged into that.

Whilst I’d like to just buy the most highly rated system, I’m not remotely in the “ money no object” camp. I appreciate everyone’s replies and have interest in researching suggestions.

How does the Cambridge streamer compare with the naim streamer? I can’t justify spending £1600 on a streamer but curious to hear opinions?

The cheapest new Naim one is £2600 for the nd5xs2.
Second hand ndx (old model) about £1k, second hand nd5xs2 about £1750.
Above from hifi dealers not private sales.
In the context of your system, the Cambridge would be entirely suitable.
There’s a spring offer on the axn10 at £100 discount now £449, same gen 4 streaming module, but a different ess sabre dac chip. No screen. But half the price.

It’s the most audible difference possible :slight_smile:. We all are listening to the modified electricity in the end. Naim has got its point about power supplies for a reason.

It’s about ecosystem mostly. For Naim you get a din connection and recommended solution with power line. In a full Naim system nd5 xs2 will be a bit stronger than Cambridge but more expensive also.

I don’t honestly know which sound best, but I doubt there’s much in it between most of the AppleTV models in recent years if you’re using HDMI.

I actually use Airplay to the Nova with mine, partly as no optical out but primarily as it’s hooked up to and close to a projector. Audio Airplay works surprisingly well for video these days with few lip sync issues, unlike years ago.

The main benefit of post AppleTV 3 devices is the wider range of apps available which can be downloaded from the store rather than more limited ones made available - when the kids were younger simple fun apps/puzzles/games were quite a nice addition but these days they’ve moved on to consoles.

With a 4k display they really do provide excellent video quality, source material allowing, but I don’t currently benefit from 4k or HDR as the projector is 1080p SDR.

After several years I’ve still not figured out the AppleTV App which is confusingly named but tries to amalgamate content you’ve purchased from iTunes Store with offerings from Netflix/Disney/PrimeTV/Paramount+ etc depending on what you have.

I prefer using the individual apps to choose my viewing, others might like the curated AppleTV app presentation.

There are considerably more settings available to fiddle with these days, which is good, but certain things are typical Apple such as the inability to set the Nova via Airplay as the default audio destination - it’s assumed to be HDMI out for audio (or maybe Apple Homepods if available?), so I have to enable audio out to the Nova every time we turn the projector on.

Is YouTube still on the ATV 3 or did it lose it? I spend a considerable amount of time watching music videos on that and many are of stunning quality these days.

It seems you are right, the £1600 was a trade in price listed as sale price for naim streamer. The streaming part of any of these devices can be done with an Apple TV for £150-£170 and it’s small enough to hide. The DAC is what’s going to improve the sound quality. I’m using arcam r DAC now so am I going to hear a significant improvement by spending £450, £899 or, one would hope, £2500? What about getting a £300 or £650 DAC +Apple TV 4K? The gear I have is old and sound quality is subjective, I know. Please correct me if above is incorrect.

YouTube is not currently on my Apple TV gen3, I watch YouTube on my tv directly. The only thing I use Apple TV for is to play content from iphones and iPads. When I occasionally sign up for a month of (confusingly named) Apple TV+ I watch that via Apple TV because it glitches on the tv direct. All other apps, Netflix, prime, nowtv, Disney etc work better on my Sony tv directly. I don’t know what extra apps are available on Apple TV 4K or on other streaming devices or whether I’d use them. A few have mentioned tidal but I’m not paying £20/month for that. My son has a Spotify account that I can use and it’s good for finding new things to listen to but I mostly listen to the +100Gb of music I’ve accumulated over my 62 years.