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Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Hi Guys,
I have my own existing HiFi setup but this concerns my Dads request for me to upgrade his setup.
I'd like to short list 3 systems and get him to a demo room for audition.

He's getting on a bit now but still has a fair ear and listens to almost exclusively Classical Music/Choral/Opera etc. He has an existing (near 25 year old) Rega Mira amp and some floor standing Rega speakers (look very much like Rega R5's) - same sort of age.

He's looking to upgrade and has budget of £1000 for both amp and speakers (stereo only required)

Can anyone give me some recommendations please. Other characerisations would be:

Neutral (what I call BBC) sound.
High volumes will not be required.
Bookshelf speakers to mount either side of an archway between Front room and an annex.

Dad likes my Rotel 1590/1582mk2 setup with BW CM10s (I play from FLAC media through Jriver MC22 and a Benchmark DAC. But this is out of budget. But perhaps if one of the Rotel lesser amps with BW CM1's is suitable maybe that could fit ???

Your thoughts gentlemen.

Regards
Regards
Trevor McCarthy-White
Synology DS411 NAS/JR ID22.0.81/MC22.0.112/Benchmark DAC1 USB/Rotel RC1590/RB1582Mk2/Bowers and Wilkins CM10S2

  • DVDdoug
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Reply #1
Quote
but this concerns my Dads request for me to upgrade his setup.
What is it that he's unhappy about? 

What is it he likes about your system?
   ...Maybe bring your speakers over to his house and let him try them with his current setup?

Quote
He has an existing (near 25 year old) Rega Mira amp and some floor standing Rega speakers (look very much like Rega R5's) - same sort of age.
I'm not familiar with that particular equipment, but assuming nothing's gone wrong with the amplifier, a different amplifier isn't likely to make a difference, especially if he's not looking for more power (or features like remote control or digital inputs, etc.).  

Newer/different speakers will  sound different  but it's hard to know if they will be an improvement.    Bookshelf speakers, being smaller, usually put-out less bass.  But, there's a LOT more to speaker design than size.   And, from the pictures I found the R5 does appear to have a small woofer (does "5" mean 5-inches?) so it may also struggle with strong-deep bass already.    


Re: Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Reply #2
Hi DVD Doug,
Sorry about delay in replying, I was expecting a notification when posts were made but something seems awry with my profile.

Dads interest in 'upgrading' came when I gave him mu old 'back' speakers (PMS CP1's I think) for his 'Dinning room'. He said they sounded better than his Rega's. Well one thing led to another and now he want s to make sure he is listening to the best sound he can afford in his main listening area.

I'm very well aware that amps really need to be paired with speakers - this is the reason I have B and W with my Rotel kit. Since originally posting all of this I have discovered that Rega amps and speakers rarely sound good with other kit which probably explaind the mudiness I detected when I took my current B and W CM1 'backs' for him to try. Taking my CM10S2's just isn't practical and are way out of his budget anyway.

He is under pressure ;-) to clear some floor space in the front room so the floor standers have to go !!! This is why we are looking at Bookshelf units. I have had the following recommendations from the guys who supplied my kit.

Speakers:
KEF R100 £599 currently can do for £480 
KEF R300 £999 currently can do for £800 
B&W 685 S3 £499
Amplifier:
NAD 326BEE £349 currently can do for £300
Arcam A29 £849 currently can do for £765 
Marantz PM6006 UK Special £469  not sure as they haven’t turned up as yet, but a possibility none the less

Would you have any comment on these??? in any combination.

Regards
Regards
Trevor McCarthy-White
Synology DS411 NAS/JR ID22.0.81/MC22.0.112/Benchmark DAC1 USB/Rotel RC1590/RB1582Mk2/Bowers and Wilkins CM10S2

  • DVDdoug
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Reply #3
Quote
I'm very well aware that amps really need to be paired with speakers -
That would be rare.   A modern solid state amp will usually have the same noise, distortion, and frequency response with any "normal" speaker load.      You might hear a difference in noise with a different amp, and of course a more sensitive (louder) speaker will make the noise more noticeable.   But, unless the amp is "cheap" or defective, frequency response should be flat and distortion should be below audibility as long as you don't drive the amp into clipping.

Quote
Would you have any comment on these??? in any combination.
I don't know anything about those speakers.   Maybe someone else can give you some advice.   My only advice is for your dad to listen before buying (if possible) and it's even better if the store will allow him to "borrow" the speakers (or the floor samples) and try them out in his listening environment.   You can't borrow them all and A/B them all at home but the room acoustics do make a difference.

I'd recommend against  buying a new amp, at least for "sound quality" purposes.  I'd put all of the money into speakers (assuming he prefers the higher priced choice).     And since you said he doesn't listen "loud", I doubt he'd benefit from more power.   That's another "audiophile myth"...  The truth is you gain nothing from extra/unused headroom.  

An economically, if you want to replace the amp you get more for your money...  A LOT more for your money...   with a receiver.   Separate integrated amps, preamps, and power amps have become an expensive specialty item, manufactured, distributed, and sold in small quantities.   Receivers are mass produced and fierce competition keeps the mark-up to a minimum.    Features like automatic room equalization is becoming a common feature on home theater receivers (and you don't need to use all 6 or 8 channels).
  • Last Edit: 28 September, 2017, 09:27:59 PM by DVDdoug

  • dyneq
  • [*][*][*]
Re: Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Reply #4
He is under pressure ;-) to clear some floor space in the front room so the floor standers have to go !!! This is why we are looking at Bookshelf units.

This seems to be the main reason for the change (correct?). If so, I would recommend focusing on a solution that achieves this goal and abandon the idea of a whole new system unless that is what he (or you) really want to do. As DVDdoug said, the amplification will most likely not make any difference in the sound. Unless he needs another feature (I/O, etc) that is not present in his current amplifier, save the money he would spend on that and put it in to a solution that uses less floor space but delivers excellent sound.

If he needs to move to smaller speakers, and he liked yours, why not give him those and pair them with 1 or 2 subwoofers? The sub(s) can be placed in the corner(s) of the room, or even under side tables, etc. Tube design subwoofers take up very little floor space.

  • Fairy
  • [*][*][*]
Re: Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Reply #5
I myself have the NAD C388 and CM10 s2 speakers.

From that perspective, have a look at for example the C338 amp and B&W CM5 s2 speakers. The CM series is being replaced by the 700 series so prices are dropping a bit.
If possible also check the C368 because it has MDC slots for future upgrades and a nicer look (color display) and better remote control (bigger). However with the set budget of 1000 that could be a problem. You also need some speaker stands.

I myself am very satisfied with B&W. I have been around B&W's my entire life. The NAD is a bit new for me, but it's just great!

Make sure you but heavy stands, or stands you can fill with sand, so you can take away resonation.
  • Last Edit: 02 October, 2017, 08:30:16 AM by Fairy

Re: Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Reply #6
Hi Guys,
I have my own existing HiFi setup but this concerns my Dads request for me to upgrade his setup.
I'd like to short list 3 systems and get him to a demo room for audition.

He's getting on a bit now but still has a fair ear and listens to almost exclusively Classical Music/Choral/Opera etc. He has an existing (near 25 year old) Rega Mira amp and some floor standing Rega speakers (look very much like Rega R5's) - same sort of age.

He's looking to upgrade and has budget of £1000 for both amp and speakers (stereo only required)

Can anyone give me some recommendations please. Other characerisations would be:

Neutral (what I call BBC) sound.
High volumes will not be required.
Bookshelf speakers to mount either side of an archway between Front room and an annex.

Dad likes my Rotel 1590/1582mk2 setup with BW CM10s (I play from FLAC media through Jriver MC22 and a Benchmark DAC. But this is out of budget. But perhaps if one of the Rotel lesser amps with BW CM1's is suitable maybe that could fit ???

Your thoughts gentlemen.

Regards
 


The real meat in this proposed upgrade is the new speakers. My usual caveat with speakers is that the sound quality of a speaker is highly dependent on the specific room it is in, so don't base a heck of a lot on showroom demos unless you intend to build a close duplicate of it in your home.

As others have pointed out, there is no need for scrupulous amp-speaker matching these days. That sort of thing actually went out with the second generation of SS in the middle 70s.  Tubed amps were really the devil for this sort of thing.

So.... depending, depending, you  may be able to save a lot of bucks by using what your dad already has in the way of an amp, as I think that your desire to replace the amp was based on potentially out-of-date info. OTOH if that old amp is suspicious, pitch it!

  • dsmegst
  • [*]
Re: Listening suggestions for Amp and Speakers up to £1000
Reply #7
I have 2 pairs of KEF speakers, R700s and the LS50.  Both are subjectively excellent. 
They also provide great customer support.  My son or his friends damaged a driver cone and a phone call was all I needed for them to send me a brand new driver with video links and detailed email about how to replace it at their cost under warranty.