Upgrading my set-up, have plenty of questions! :0

Punkmilitia

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Heya, I have some questions to those of you who are educated in the art of sound!
I used to use Logitec 540 5.1, but I was in a battlestation thread and noticed a lot of people had "Bookshelf" speakers; so I decided to look into them.

I had a very tiny budget at the time, and could barely squeeze out enough to get some Diamond 9's. I then realized I needed an Amp to supply these with power through the conversion of Digital>Analogue. Everyone said get the LePai 2020+ Amp, and it was very cheap so I did.

Since then I have really enjoyed listening to my music much more than I used to - but I realised a few things, such as the amp is 10w/PC total and sometimes only 1 speaker would work.

Now that is up to present. I am here because I'm upgrading my amp and want to get a bit more serious with my set-up. So I have a few questions.
I plan to keep using the Diamond 9's because they are more than loud enough for use at my computer, at say 4 out of 10 on the volume dial of the LePai.

The Amp I plan to upgrade to is called Teac AG 790E. 100W/PC - literally 10 times higher than the LePai. I was offered this very cheap, and like new.
It was either this Amp or a Kenwood 3020SE, so I hope I made the right decision. Specs are below. Just wanted to say the Hardware before questions.
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Discrete Output Circuit Configuration
Quartz PLL Synthesized Tuning System
A/ B Speaker Selection
100W + 100W (6 ohms, 1kHz, 0.9% THD)
90W + 90W (8 ohms, 1kHz, 0.9% THD)
Speaker Terminal: Binding Post (4 pairs)
---

Q1: Other than having higher Watts, will this Amp improve sound quality, or anything, or is it just a marginal improvement over the LePai that just let's me use both speakers instead of 1?

Q2: Amp has 2 sets for speakers. So, could I use 4 speakers at once, so maybe have 2 at back, 2 at front(not surround, I know, just more sound area?)

Q3: What about if I put 2 speakers in set A, and put perhaps a Sub on set B - would that work okay? I know it will essentially act as a large speaker but that could be advantagious.

Q4: Does speaker wire really matter much? I have very crappy cable here, so I decided to buy Multi-Strand 432 Copper(7.5x3.6 - 14AWG, 30A max) if that means anything. Is it worth paying over £5/M?

Q5: Is my onboard sound card good enough? (115dB SNR, 600ohm, EMI shilded, TI NE5532 amplifier, gold audio capacitors, THD: 0.0043) - or should I look into a sound card?

Q6: My monitor is low so I have to look down to use it - keping in mind I will use this on low-mid volume and shouldn't heat up - could I put my monitor on top? The base is 1ftx0.5ft at the largest area.

Q7: If I need to use 4/10 on the volume nob on the LePai - would I get the same volume level on the new amp?

Q8: Does 24bits@48khz/24@96khz/24@192khz make a difference at all?

Q9: When I switched to my current system from the Logitech I could hear lots of new things in songs and it was like a bit of a new song. Every day after I noticed more and more interesting stuff - but the stuff no longer stands out now - guess it's because i'm used to it. So, is there any software to test the music before and after the new amp/cables, or perhaps a song or something?

Q10: If I only use the Diamonds at half the volume - would it ever be worth upgrading speakers?

Q11: I see people saying about having a set-up like: PC>DAC>AMP>SPEAKERS - so, should I get a DAC too? 0_o

Q12: I currently play Flacs or MP3s using MusicBee - is there anything I should do to improve the software side of things?

I want to get a bit more serious. My set-up is plenty loud enough, I'm aiming more for quality/accuracy now. I know there will be plenty out there with Onkyos that cost thousands laughing at this statement, but - we all have to start somewhere, don't we? Thank you all for reading very much, and if you could reply or help my set-up I would be very thankful.

*The reason I chose the Teac is because i'm not interested in using it with networking, HDMI cables, etc. and I can get it very cheap compared to retail pricing.
 
Q1 - It should sound better and louder. There is more room to improve on it later when you have more money.
Q2 - For right at your PC don't use four. If you want more sound over a larger area then ok.
Q3 - You could connect a sub to speaker B but if it is not self powered and has its' own volume control you will not be able to balance it. Many subs do not have speaker level inputs but a speaker to line level adapter would work fine.
Q4 - Your sound card is fine.
Q5 - Speaker wire does make a difference but don't worry about it now.
Q6 - You can put your monitor on top of the receiver but make sure not to block any ventilation on top. You can raise the monitor on three rubber feet.
Q7 - Every volume control is different so the position will be different for the same volume.
Q8 - Higher bit and sample rate files do sound better.
Q9 - The best music is the music you love. For testing purposes better recordings of acoustic instrument based music will be easier to here differences than electronic based music. Well recorded vocals are great for this.
Q10 - Yes. Better speakers may not play louder but sound better at any volume.
Q11- Yes. When you have the money.
Q12 - Many computer audiophiles use J. River Media to play music. Foobar also works well.
High end audio equipment is usually simpler than more commercial gear. Functions are separate so they can be upgraded in stages. Unlike surround sound equipment which changes constantly you can use high quality used gear since it can still perform to a higher standard than what you can afford in new equipment. It is a process that can take time and be fun. Enjoy the music more because you get to hear more of what is there.
 

Punkmilitia

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Q2 - For right at your PC don't use four. If you want more sound over a larger area then ok.
I didn't word it so well - sometimes I like to leave the computer playing music whilst I relax on a sofa, so I was thinking of getting 2 new speakers for behind my sofas, and have the 2 diamond 9's at the desk.
Q3 - You could connect a sub to speaker B but if it is not self powered and has its' own volume control you will not be able to balance it. Many subs do not have speaker level inputs but a speaker to line level adapter would work fine.
Well.. The "sub" I have I re-purposed from my old phillips soundbar. It uses normal cable wire, and it's passive - I unscrewed the "driver?" out and it says 8 impedance and 25W, which sounds very low considering it's bigger than the Diamond 9s. I currently have it wrapped around my left diamond cable so theres 2 cables going through left channel, 1 in the right channel. I'm thinking if I put it in a different section on the new amp - it won't damage it as much or something? I don't have a clue.
Q5 - Speaker wire does make a difference but don't worry about it now.
I like to Wish List stuff in advance so when I have some spare money, I can order on a whim. I looked on google but the views are mixed. Have you got any recommendations or articles I could read?
Q9 - The best music is the music you love. For testing purposes better recordings of acoustic instrument based music will be easier to here differences than electronic based music. Well recorded vocals are great for this.
Most of the acoustic music I like has bad production quality. I guess Nirvana unplugged would be the best to test on. I could try some baroque - but then I'd just get lost in the magic. Hip Hop wouldn't be too fair, but I guess it would be good to compare how the bass hopefully improves. I really, REALLY hate "muddy" bass.
Q11- Yes. When you have the money.
Really? I thought a DAC just converts audio from analogue to Digital? Amps do that too? Whats the advantage of going this route? What would you recommend?
Q12 - Many computer audiophiles use J. River Media to play music. Foobar also works well.
Not a gigantic fan of foobar after using it so many years in linux. Just trying this J River Media out and it seems pretty awesome! Has many more options than MusicBee - although it does look a bit like iTunes - I'll need to do a good read-up on it.
High end audio equipment is usually simpler than more commercial gear. Functions are separate so they can be upgraded in stages. Unlike surround sound equipment which changes constantly you can use high quality used gear since it can still perform to a higher standard than what you can afford in new equipment. It is a process that can take time and be fun. Enjoy the music more because you get to hear more of what is there.
That's what I like about doing it this way instead of buying those plastic speakers - sure it cost a bit more but if I have spare money - I don't need to upgrade it all at once. I look forward to improving my system each time, even if it is silly things that mean nothing to some people. Thanks a lot for the reply!
 
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