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Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

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rgrainger's picture
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Joined: 1 Feb 2013
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Hi

I currently have a pretty old setup - mid 90s amp (Cambridge Audio AI-1110) and speakers (Gale Reference Monitors). It sounds OK, but I'd like to "warm up" the sound. The amp is on its last legs (most of the inputs no longer work), and I'll be replacing it in the mid future, probably with a Marantz.

Aside from the amp, however, which I'm definately going to replace anyway in due course, what should I purchase to "warm up" the sound, what should it be? New speakers or subwoofer? My budget is up to £250.

I listen to quite a wide variety of music, but primarily it's rock/acoustic and electronic (but not dance). I'm not interested in a home cinema setup, or great amplitude; just a warmer sound.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Robert

kev g's picture
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RE: Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

With a Marantz amp I would audition some Tannoy speakers, no sub

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Fulci's picture
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RE: Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

What is the source?

 

You could start by trying new cables and see if it improves. You can make a pair of Klotz AC110 with Neutrik plugs under £10. A new speaker cable could help too, the Rega Quattro are very good and not very expensive. You could try a power chord too, that made a hell of a difference in simbilance, fatigue and shrillness to my old Audiolab 8000A. It was not night and day difference, but you could listen to it for a lot longer without getting tired.

 

If your source is digital, like a CD player, you could try a new DAC and keep it for when you get your new amplifier. A Beresford Bushmaster DAC is a brilliant machine that can be yours for under £200. Avoid the DacMagic as it's very harsh and a far inferior machine.

 

Finally, if you are handy with a soldering iron, you could try replacing the capacitors in the amplifier for Elna Silmic II and Kendeil which should give you a much sweeter and warm sound, and a lot more dynamics, given the age of it. My old Audiolab became a hell of a great amplifier after this mod.

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Fulci's picture
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RE: Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

Sorry, just saw you were actually looking for new amp and speakers.

 

If you can get Rega RS1 speakers for £250, you must put them on your list.

 

Also, you could try some NAD amps, it's hard to get warmer sound than that for your budget.

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BigH's picture
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RE: Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

Fulci wrote:

Sorry, just saw you were actually looking for new amp and speakers.

 

If you can get Rega RS1 speakers for £250, you must put them on your list.

 

Also, you could try some NAD amps, it's hard to get warmer sound than that for your budget.

 

Rega RS1s are about £440 new unless you meant used ones?

 

You could look out for Arcam amps like the Alpha 9 for around £200 used, that is fairly warm.

MeanandGreen's picture
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RE: Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

NAD would be my prefered choice for amplification, but Marantz ,may well give you the sound you want. I'd suggest Living with the new amp for little while before deciding what to buy next. The amp change on it's own may be enough, or if it isn't at least you will have an idea of what tonal qualities you will need to look for with new speakers having lived with it for a while.

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rgrainger's picture
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Joined: 1 Feb 2013
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RE: Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

Thanks everyone for the replies.

I think I'll take MeanandGreen's advice, and buy the amp first. My amp is knackered, and needs to be replaced anyway, whreas my speakers work fine (and, from the limited information online, are regarded as very good for budget speakers; I have the original model with the rectangular tweeter, which is supposedly the best version). If the amp doesn't warm up the sound then I'll look more into speakers.

I take it then that if the amp doesn't warm things up on its own, I should spend the £250 on replacing the speakers, rather than keeping them and adding a sub-woofer to the set-up?

lindsayt's picture
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RE: Advice needed: how to make my set-up "warmer" (on a budget)

rgrainger, have you tried using a bit of contact cleaner on your amplifier selector switches?

Google "amplifier contact cleaner selector switch" and click on the youtube links for a little instructional video showing you how amazingly easy it is to do if you have non sealed switches.

Just seems a shame to dump what may well be a perfectly good amp for the sake of £5 worth of contact cleaner  plus a few minutes of your time.

 

If you can return it to fully working condition you may still wish to get another amp. But then at least you've got a benchmark with which to compare any new amp. There's no guarantee that the new amp will sound better in your system.