RLCCM wrote: I don't mind spending a little more in that case on the amp to get somethnig more powerful if needed, but nothing really has jumped out at me as yet, that is actually more powerful. Any suggestions?
I don't mind spending a little more in that case on the amp to get somethnig more powerful if needed, but nothing really has jumped out at me as yet, that is actually more powerful. Any suggestions?
IMO. You would be better sticking with the A19, unless you are prepared to spend considerably more.......ie. Something like the Electrocompaniet ECI-3 or Rega Elicit.R.
"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines." Nelson Pass
In which case, seems A19 is the choice, hopefully it will pair well with an audiolab 8200 CD - i like the idea of the 8200 as it adds the DAC.
It's just been my experience that you have to double the price you pay to get a worthwhile upgrade.......unless you've picked the wrong component, in which case a sideways move can work (eg. SS to Valves).
The Creek 50A is probably the best direct competition to the Arcam.....then you move up to the likes of the MF M3i and Sugden Mystro.
If you have an upgrade plan over the next couple of years, it may be worth hearing what the R700s can do.....and if you like what you hear, get them in the knowledge that you will "grow into them".
If your system is for the foreseeable, then get the speakers that sound best with the amp you are going for.
The reason for this logic, is changing after a couple of years is very expensive, as you may well only get back half what you paid (if bought knew).
Well my local shop has the M3 - which perfomed at least with the CM9-s noticeably better than the Cambridge 651 I had to compare it against. Also the M3 is about £1000 - which though being notably more than the A19, is not out of the question if the benefit is notable, however from what I've read, I'm not entirely sure the benefit will be there. Hopefully I'll get another demo in this weekend, but will see if I can actually find the said things in the same shop! It's a big shame that the shop I visited in London were completely unprepared for me, despite pre-booking, as otherwise certainly some of these uncertainties would have been better answered.
The other option I thought, was to get the Audiolab 8200 CDQ with pre-amp, and add that to a croft series 7. That would be a bit risky in that to actually find a croft to demo, with any similar equipment is rather unlikely to happen!
When booking a demo in advance, ask to speak to the person who will be setting it up on that day, and ask that your chosen system will be warmed up and ready to go on your arrival. If they can't give you this undertaking, ask to speak to the boss....if it is the boss, take your business elsewhere.
So, a free saturday meant some time for demo's and... what I am about to say will more or less destroy this entire thread and throw it into the abyss! But lets start with the easy bits first.
1. KEF R300's are a great little speaker, the huge bass will easily compensate for my relatively small and regularly turned off sub for the home theatre. Plus I think they will match my older KEF eggs pretty well in terms of style. Choice made.
2. I listenned to them on an LX87, quite impressed y the features, less impressed by the musical quality, but I have come to accept that would be the case, and I listenned in a tiny room and in stereo which wasnt fair, nor on a blu-ray, but a CD soundtrack (Master & Commander), and without any set-up done. I will end up with a cheaper LX76 I think, that should be enough for me, I think the feature benefits will pay off in the long run.
Theatre dealt with....
3. I listenned to some Spendor A6's at a different shop on a Rega amp, good, but there was a distinct punch in the upper bass range, which sounded out of place, otherwise they had a nice warmth and balance. Another contender yes, but that punch in the upper bass put me off a bit, also I wished slightly more clarity (as i do also withthe bigger floorstanding KEF r500 and r700).
4. The same shop put a pair of Totem Hawks next to them, and gained that clarity, but yet again lost something in tonal balance, or excitement. Actually today I listenned to the Totem against the Focal/KEF/B&W in my first shop (it turns outthey have the Totem also) and though the totem can be good after yuo get used to them, they didnt seem to outperform the others for the money, just add options and confuse things further (and thus I rapidly gave up trying to listen to speakers there that day). I left it with the shop, that when the new JM-Lab/Focal 926 comes in, we would give that a try, they are under the impression that it is quite a different beast to the older focals, and will definitely be worth the test vs the B&W which were probably my favourite, ish, in a long listenning session.
5. However ever keen to see/hear more, I wandered up to another much smaller shop I found on the internet the other day after much searching. This was a shop which sells very few brands that I have actually heard of, and given their lack of english, and my poor french, made for some interesting conversation. But I thought i would try them anyway.
***** REVELLATIONS HAPPENED******
You can ignore everything said above, after reading the following.
Firstly, the one brand they did have, which I was keen to hear was Audiolab. So we plugged the 8200A and 8200CD into the speaker they said would be "a good choice for Jazz" a pair of Davis Vinci HD (and honestly they didnt have really many others in the way of brands to compare to). I've never heard of them before. The Audiolab CD has been my first choice for a while, though I hadnt heard it, it has great reviews and I like the built in DAC feature. My initial impression was the same as frankly all others. I wasn't blown away, nor even that excited by what I heard, as I mentioned before, I struggled to love any of the speakers I have heard so far. These Davis units seemed pretty good, though lacked a little width in the midrange, otherwise the balance was pretty good. Certainly comparable to the others and one to consider, and very excellent value at £1300 a pair, but again not quite.... right.
This is when the revelation happened. The shop told me this "have you heard a valve amplifier yet?" for Jazz you really must try it.
They plugged in a £950 40W/pc JoLida 202 valve amp, alas another brand I have never heard of and also cant find much information or reviews of online. The change was astounding. I cannot honestly say how mindblowing it was. It somehow bore life into those quite neutral Davis floorstanders, that the Audiolab or frankly any set-up I have tried so far could even come close to matching. It was no one thing, or even noticeable sound quality difference. Yet, my Jazz was suddenly given a life that the other set-ups hadn't reproduced, and I had spent so much energy trying to find, and have been getting quite frustrated in not getting! The brass sections gained a fluidity in attack, vocals and solo instruments stood out in clarity in the forefront and reached out, and overall dynamic balance was excellent. Some of my loved CD's that somehow didnt quite sound that special on the other set-ups, suddenly sounded oh so georgous, warm exciting and full of life!
It was really georgous listening. Where in the past tests I had occasionally swapped CD's to try them in testing what sounds best for what, now I found myself quickly swapping to see just how georgous the next would come out, in sheer excitement! My love of Jazz music was back! It was exhilerating!
It wasn't perfect in places, nor for everyones taste though, I shall point out. On a few jazz tracks the double bass, though it sounded beautifully wooden, was slightly lost or quiet in places, though on the whole I felt the balance usually was right. Also I did put in Master & Commander, as well as some Pearl jam. The classical music in M&C was georgous, but the film-track sections didnt quite have as much edge as some, though were still very good and open.
A mellow accoustic Pearl Jam track from No Code sounded really fantastic, the accoustic guitars come out with such a lushness that it's hard to ignore, but when coming to the heavy electric guitar tracks, the anger was there but had lost a little attack, some bite was lost perhaps, and the balance not quite right also.
That said, though I love pearl jam, I gladly will take the trade-off.
Did I buy? No. Not yet anyway, though I was hugely tempted. The reasons being as follows:
1. I know nothing about valve amps, and wanted to do some more research on them before buying the first I have heard! And ask the fine people here!
2. I didnt know the brands at all!
3. With the Audiolab amp, I didnt totally love the speakers, and so wouldnt mind trying some of the better known ones on this valve set-up, though I am not sure how I will manage that.
4. with no remote for the amp, I disliked the idea of getting up every time to change volume. I suggested to them the idea of the Audiolab CDQ with pre-amp instead, and they agreed this could do the trick, but also recommended that if I was to spend that much extra just for volume control, I may aswell use that toward a better amp instead. The next step up to include the remote control was a JoLida 801s and about £550 more, and was i think an 80W/pc valve amp. I didnt get a chance to try it yet. That said, they priced together the system (I think exculding cables) at a touch under £3400, with the more expensive JoLida amp, which is quite reasonable I felt.
5. But, If I am suddenly spending not £300 more (which is a similar price bracket at least to the arcam a19) on the Jolida 202, but actually doubluing the Arcam's price range for an amp, then I ought again to try some more expensive electronic amps to comensate. That said, the £950 JoLida 202 set-up I tested completely blew away every system I have heard so far however, at least for my ears anyway!
So, anyone know anything about valve amps? or JoLida? or any others I should compare them to? Or speakers that particularly go well with valve amps?
its opened a whole new broad set of options, and practically thrown away all the work i've done already!
Well, well!.....Valves and Class A are where it's at, as far as I'm concerned, so I'm delighted you have stumbled into it. It pays to keep an open mind, as a lot of people get fixated by a couple of well known 5* brands, and won't consider anything else.
IMO. Everybody should hear a Valve amp before making a decision, and when I (and others) suggest doing so, most don't bother, so it's easy to omit them......though in my suggestions, there were Hybrid (Croft / Pathos) and Class A (Sugden).
If you much prefer Valves, nothing else will do. BTW. I have certainly heard of Jolida, but never listened to one. Other brands to keep an eye out for, are Jadis and Unison Research......but it can get expensive very quickly.
As for speakers, see what the shop has....but other than that, I would suggest JM Reynaud, Audio Note and possibly Proac.
Keep us informed, as I now suspect you are in for an interesting ride.....Hifi epiphanies are always good! :bounce:
FWIW. Here is a thread where someone went through a similar experience for 2 channel (post. 4 onwards): http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/cyrus-6xp-or-leema-pulse-for-rs6?page=2
I have to mirror that statement and urge anyone who hasnt yet, to go and listen to a valve amp! Cno speaks truth!
It is certainly going to be an interesting journey from here. The first shop sells Prima Luna amps, though havent yet had one in for test. Otherwise I will surely struggle to find places to test things further here, particularly with the valves. I may just bite the bullet and buy this Audiolab and Amp combo, and ask the shop if I might use the speakers on long term test at home, and then pick my favourite outof the B&W/KEF/Focal/Totem battle to compare against.
Unfortunately this shop where I tried the valves, seems rather niche and high end, the other things I saw in the shop all looked extremely expensive, and there were very few things I recognised. Actually, I am pretty sure they pulled more or less one of their cheaper set-ups off the shelves to show me!
Anyway, looks like there will be a vast amount of reserach and testing ahead, all over again! I'm going to try to investigate these other brands that Cno has suggested, I hope to find them here, but doubt I shall!
You should start a thread on Valve Amps with suitable speakers (at a given price)........it should excite the interest of the knowledgeable Valve owners on here, who haven't read this thread.
It would be good to coax Acalex out of hibernation, as he (and Roby) went through amazing adventures, which ended up with him buying a Valve amp (Jadis).