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Discover Roon: The Ultimate Music Player for Music Fanatics

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Roon Makes Your Digital Music Experience Fun Again

When music went from discs to digital, we lost something: the tangible sensation of LP covers and CD sleeves. Don’t get us wrong—digital media is incredibly convenient. But born from that convenience came drab track lists that erased engaging artwork, artist biographies, and song lyrics at our fingertips.

If you’re a hardcore music lover with a vast collection of digital media, it’s time you checked out Roon. Roon is the digital media player for audiophiles who desire a more exciting user experience as they enjoy their music. Along with brilliantly managing your digital media, Roon also brings multi-room smarts to your high-end audio equipment.

Show & Tell AV Solutions is a proud Roon dealer serving Salt Lake City, UT and the surrounding areas. Read on to discover Roon and learn how you can get an extra month of Roon for free when you sign up.

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High-End Audio, Part 3: Amplifiers To Make Your Speakers Sing

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Bring Out All the Emotion and Nuance in Music with McIntosh Amplifiers

This is the third of a series of blogs on one of our favorite solutionshigh-end audio. In the first two, we’ve gone from discussing the endpoint – the speakers that create the sound – to the sources, like streaming, vinyl, and CDs. In this final installment, we’re going to go into the middle – the amplifier, the piece of equipment that creates the current to drive the speaker.

Power amplifiers are what make speakers come alive. Speakers are not all the same, and some amplifiers make far better partners for some speakers than others. Some speakers are relatively efficient, requiring smaller amounts of current to achieve high sound levels and clarity, and some only sound their best with copious quantities of undistorted power. 

One of our favorite amplifier brands is McIntosh. The company’s amplifiers are legendary, having powered the famous Woodstock concert of the late 1960s. Their build quality and longevity let them be passed down from one generation to the next, like a classic vintage automobile. Let’s dive a little deeper into McIntosh amplifiers and how they can amp up the sound system in your listening room.

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4 Music Sources to Enjoy on Your High-End Audio System

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There’s No Need to Choose Between Spinning and Streaming

At a very basic level, a sound system comprises three parts: speakers, sources, and amplification. Our last blog focused on speakers and why we love 2-channel for music enjoyment at home. We also recommended our favorite high-end audio brands! In this blog, we’re getting into the music itself.

Whether you love the tactile experience of vinyl or the convenience of internet streaming, you can enjoy both music formats and many more through your high-performance speakers. All you need are the right components. Below, explore four popular music sources you can connect to your system for versatile music listening at home in Bountiful and the greater Utah area.

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Surround Sound: What’s the Best Speaker Setup for You?

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The Soundbar Setup

If you’re on a budget or have a small movie room, you might start with a soundbar like the Sonos Arc. The Arc has 11 drivers and can replicate the sound field of a five-channel surround system on its own. The Arc also supports Dolby Atmos signals and features two up-firing drivers to create a sense of height.

We could go on about its features, but the point we want to drive home is that it’s possible to enjoy surround sound with just a soundbar—if you know which one to look for. Still, we’d recommend pairing it with at least a subwoofer for some punching bass and a more immersive audio experience.

The Standard 5.1 Setup

5.1 might be the most basic surround setup, but it’s a step up from any soundbar-based system. Unlike a soundbar, a 5.1 setup uses separate speakers that sit around you to envelop you in the action. This configuration includes three front speakers, two surround speakers, and one subwoofer.

While the Arc is already powered, a 5.1 setup will usually require a receiver or processor/amp combo to decode audio formats and power your speakers (we’ll talk more on that in the next blog). If you choose a 5.1 system, make sure your front left and right speakers are angled inward toward the listening position, your surrounds are on either side of the listening position, and all speakers are at ear level.

SEE ALSO: Home Theater FAQ: Choosing the Best Seating Type and Placement

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Freestanding vs. Architectural Surround Sound Speakers

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When You Might Choose Freestanding Speakers

You’re Adding Speakers to an Existing Room

One of the key differences between freestanding and architectural speakers is installation. Freestanding speakers, whether bookshelf or tower, don’t require opening walls. If you’re upgrading an existing room and don’t want to tear into walls for built-in speakers, then choose freestanding instead.

You Prefer to Showcase Your Audio Gear

Whether you’re upgrading an existing room or building from scratch, you might still choose freestanding speakers if you love the aesthetic appeal that they add to your home theater. After all, many high-end tower and bookshelf speakers today are works of art! Still, keep in mind that large speakers—especially those placed on either side of your display—could distract viewers from the screen.

SEE ALSO: Home Theater FAQ: What to Know About Screens and Projectors

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Our Favorite Audiophile Headphones for High-End Listening

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Audeze LCD-X/LCD-XC

Cherished by music lovers, music producers, and mastering engineers, the LCD-X (pictured above) is Audeze’s most popular headphone. In fact, you can find the LCD-X and other high-end headphones from Audeze in some of the world’s most prestigious production houses!

These over-ear, open-back and closed back headphones feature Planar Magnetic drivers that reproduce the most intimate musical details with microscopic clarity. Experience pinpoint imaging, an impressive sense of space, and excellent transient response—allowing you to hear every recording as the creators intended.

And if you still need convincing that headphones are a fair competitor with stereo loudspeakers, consider this review by The Absolute Sound: “It is my opinion that the LCD-X can compete with all of the very best high-end loudspeakers.”

You can find both the open back and closed back models on display at our showroom.

Audeze LCD-2

 

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Can Amplifiers and DACs Improve Your Headphones?

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Headphone Amplifiers

Just like the amplifier that powers your full-sized speakers, a headphone amp works in the same way on a much smaller scale. This low-powered amp increases the signal from your devices, such as your smartphone or PC, amplifying low-voltage signals to higher levels.

Built-in amps tend to distort and compress sound, losing the dynamic range of the music, while high-quality headphone amps are designed to preserve the original signal.

The result is studio-quality sounds that greatly improve the listening experience, providing louder, crisper sounds. Power and quality are the two main reasons people use dedicated headphone amps from high-end companies like MyteK and McIntosh. Below are two of the models we most recommend for our clients.

The Liberty THX AAA Headphone AMP from MyTek provides powerful, precision sound with minimal distortion. The amp also comes with a reference tool to adjust volume and sound settings for optimal listening and production.

We also have the McIntosh MHA200 headphone amp coming to our showroom soon. This beautiful, compact amplifier boasts four different impedance ranges, balanced, and unbalanced inputs. Enjoy sound in stereo or left and right outputs. The MHA200 features McIntosh’s trademark vacuum tube amplification and a toroidal power transformer for powerful, pristine sound with a wide range of headphones and music sources.

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