to the OP:
I recommend to spend the most on speakers. Actives are better by desing but unfortunately will give you limited choice in domestically suitable ranges. Some very good speaker options: B&O, Genelec, Adam Audio, ATC, AVI ADM40. If you like good bass, get a good sub too (ATC, GL Audio etc) perfectly well within your budget).
Sources: modern sources produce practically indistinguishable output so should be chosen purely on functionlaity, looks, compativility and interface. Some options are: MacMini, Sonos, Apple Airplay devices (e.g. Airport express, ATV or third-party options), Squeezebox touch (although discontinued) and plenty other streamers. Add a nas if you want or stream from a computer.
Given the above, I would budget (up to) 15K for speakers and the rest for everyhtign else.
If you do not want to stream get a modern bluray player (for CDs) and a pre-amp with digital inputs (or a DAC with volume contorol) and some actives. But I would recommend a streamer as it will allow you easier acces to your music. A near perfect set would be a MacMini + AVI ADM40, or the mini with a dac/pre and say ATC 50As or Adams of your choice and maybe a sub.
Another important advice - think through all the interfaces, control and integration (how easy and pleasant will it be to operate the gear for you and your significant others, how well the components interact and are compatible, how robust is the connection etc). You do not want to spend 20k and end up having to mess with switches/cables/logins/restarts etc, you should be able to achieve very sleek control and full integration. To this end, do not forget to budget for controllers e.g. a dedicated ipod/ipad or an advanced remote like Philips TSU range or similar. Once again - think it through. do not rush.
I'd very much agree with that.
Having said that, if AV is a possiblity in the future, (which nobody seems to have mentioned) AND you want to keep the box count to a minium and the control/system ergonomics highly intuitive and easy to use for all the family, then IMHO B&O starts to make a lot of sense because of it's highly integrated system approach.
Their TV's, whilst not cheap, have wonderful sound and picture quality; have an onboard preamp/DAC and state of the art surround sound processor, and the active speaker array doubles as the centre channel in an AV role.
Again, with something like the Lab 5's, no separate subs are needed - the bass extension and distortion measurements of the Lab 5 is state of the art - you are going to need a very serious separates sub such as an JL Audio Fathom or one of the digital drive Velodynes with motional feedback to equal them - and don't forget, there are two of them as a stereo pair - each with a 15" bass driver with 1,000watts RMS each, to control it in full active mode.
From any technical, engineering and acoustic POV they are a tour de force.
If you end up streaming, be it video or audio, B&O have streamers to suit, OR you can use a computer plus Apple TV and stream to that, controllng the TV (and hence your preamp/speakers etc) as well as your music or video library, with the flick of a thumb from an Apple iPad that the whole family could easily use. Or, use the supplied B&O remote, cast in solid zinc to remain cool to the touch in the hand.
I thought I should mention AV, in case it is of future consideration - whilst AVI for example are very good performance and value, there is no matching active centre speaker available for them, and any processor for surround sound duties etc, will need to be separate - and you will need matching subs for them if you want to add movie LFE, which means more clutter and physical boxes. So very high performance yes, and excellent value for money but for looks, minimal space saving, and an overal system integration that offers a superb overall ownership experience in total, B&O has an awful lot going for it - not just performance and well, as someone put it... bling.
Obviously, like the AVI boys, I'm a bit biased, but after 40 + years in this hobby, it's the best system I've ever owned on not just performance grounds, but all the other things that come into a major consumer purchase, and contribute to a very high level of overall ownership satisfaction on every level that one might consider, such as AlmaataKZ suggests.
Good luck, take your time and if possible get a home demo when you think you have found your right gear, some demo rooms are not very good IMHO.
Well Shaun, as you can see, were all blokes with opinions, and we all think were right.
I do not believe in telling anyone what to do, but laying out options for them to try, that they might not otherwise have known about......I am not going to get into Actives, as there are more knowledgeable people on here to do that. What I will say is that just because a speaker is Active, doesn't mean it's good...they vary like everything else. People can wax lyrical about their advantages, but it means nothing if you don't like the way they sound.
IMO The pro type Actives are inclined to look a bit utilitarian, and can sound a little on the analytical side...which is often what they are designed to do ie. for studio use, where looks aren't important, but looking deep into the track is.
i'm also not going to get into TTs, as again, there are others who are more up to date.
I am a big fan of streamers, and the Linn DS ones in particular, though you should check out those from Naim and Cyrus...I have an on going thread here: http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/the-linn-ds-dsm-thread
- Musical Fidelity AMS 35i http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/the-musical-fidelity-ams-35i-thread
- Accuphase A35
- Luxman L590 A11
- Luxman http://www.luxman.co.jp/global/product/ia_l-509u.html
- Accuphase http://www.accuphase.com/cat/english_cat1207.pdf
- Electrocompaniet http://www.kronosav.com/electrocompaniet
- Plinius Hiato
- Lavardin http://www.stoneaudio.co.uk/?manufacturer=lavardin
Hybrid (Valve pre with solid state power)
- Pathos Inpol 2 (Class A) and Logos
- Unison Research Unico http://www.audiooasis.co.uk/en/results.php?field=All&search=unison+resea...
- Bel Canto http://www.kronosav.com/belcanto.html
- Nad M2
These can produce a wonderfully emotional and musical experience, but can (depending on brand) be better with some genres of music than others.
I would recommend brands like Unison Research, Audio Note, Icon Audio, Jadis, Pure Sound and VTL.....some of the lower powered ones take careful speaker matching.
- Kef Reference 205/2 http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/the-kef-reference-thread
- Kef R900
- Proac D40
- PMC PB1
- Spendor ST / SP100 R2
- Harbeth Super HL5
- Sonus Faber Cremona M
I am not trying to promote my own threads, but you may find some useful info in there.
In case it's of interest, my 2 channel system consists of Linn Majik DS + MF AMS 35i + Kef 205/2 with pictures here: http://www.whathifi.com/forum/your-system/and-finally
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
Most definitely Spendor or Harbeth. Honestly.
Mac Mini > Chordette Peach + Sony CDP707ES + Arcam CD 73 + Quad FM4
Arcam A28 + Sony TA-FA 777ES
Naim Naca 5
With a budget of such substantial size, it is going to take some time.
It is nice to see a few people suggesting that you don't necessarily need to spend your entire budget to achieve your aims. There is too much emphasis in some circles to keep buying more and more expensive equipment and it isn't necessarily the answer. I'm in the process of shifting my position with regards to hi-fi, wanting to make the hobby less about the equipment and leaving more room for simply enjoying the music. With that in mind, in your position I would want to make the following a priority to investigate:
* B&O. I've always been impressed with the sheer engineering quality of their products and when I've heard B&O equipment I've always been impressed with the sound.
* AVI ADM40. No matter which way you look at it, these have to be worth a proper audition. I haven't heard them, but if they really can provide the level of performance owners describe, they have to be a strong option with a huge financial saving to boot.
* T+A Music Receiver with Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grands. I've heard this combination and thought it was incredible. Beautifully built, lovely to use, and with really involving sound.
Add your choice of turntable and phono stage to any of these and you've got one heck of a system.
It is all too easy to end up being consumed by the equipment and endless tweaking. If you enjoy that, fine, but it does all get a bit tiring in the end and there comes a point when you just want to enjoy the music. I think these sorts of solution take away much of the temptation for tinkering and place the emphasis firmly on the content.
Enjoy the search and please let us know how the auditions go and, ultimately, what you end up buying.
Rega RP3/White Belt/Elys2 - Pioneer A-30 - Dali Zensor 3. (+ Denon DCD720AE for CDs)
Pioneer PL12D II - Sansui AU2200 - Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 (+ Philips CD840 for CDs)
Excellent post as ever Cno, but I think the Accuphase A35 is a power amp... for Class A integrated it would be the E560.
Accuphase E350 amp, Electrocompaniet EMC1UP CDP, Siltech 25th Classic anniversary 330I XLR Harbeth Super HL5 on Sound Anchor Quod ELS63 stands, Chord Odessey2 speaker cable. Grado SR60 headphones.
Andrew Everard's review of the T+A Music Receiver here: http://www.gramophone.co.uk/editorial/ta-music-receiver-streaming-on-the...
This is a crucial piece of advice
It is certainly worth the OP comparing systems at £5k, £10k and £20k, to see what the doubling of budget brings in terms of VFM (diminishing returns is always a factor).
I think the Accuphase A35 is a power amp... for Class A integrated it would be the E560.
Thx Mac, it's easy to get confuddled with all this.
Without being at all disreptful, having read your posts, I can't help wondering whether you want a hifi system as an excellent music source or as a statement of your considerable budget. In short do you want it for sound or bling/kudos?
Some of the gear that has been mentioned will achieve both, particularly B&O.
Despite the paranoid claims of certain people on here, you could easily find that you need only spend a fraction of your budget and yet get superb sound, in terms of the DAC, pre and power amps and speakers. £3250 will buy you that, the AVI ADM 40. With your budget, AVI should probably be auditioned asap to see just how much extra you could spend needlessly[in terms of sound quality].
Silver disc sources could be a bluray player and if you are at all computer literate then streaming sources include Sonos and Apple tv, although yet again you won't be spending much money.
A turntable is where you could really go to town in the spend department. I would sort out the digital source and amp/speakers first because you have a consistent medium in the cd by which to judge things.
The main source of AVI ADM 40 demo is at the owners home in Gloucestershire, but individual owners of AVI product are happy to let you listen to their own speakers. Access via the AVI/HDD web forum.
As has been mentioned, you have a fantastic budget and a very decent sized listening room[hopefully without any 'issues'] so it will be fascinating to see what you end up with. Hopefully you will keep us up to date.
Best of luck, just be careful that you don't spend needlessly, unless of course that doesn't bother you.
Just a thought on the bling comment. I agree that something like an AVI speaker will offer superb sound and excellent value for money. But to suggest that going beyond that is only for kudos, or bling, is a little shortsighted in my view.
I don't personally find any 'bling' in B&O, or B&W products whatsoever - just very serious and very detailed engineering - which you end up paying for at the end of the day.
I've been told by an AVI fan (who'd never heard the B&O product I own) that I more or less should've bought ADM40's as they would be 'better' than my Lab 9's and infinitely better value.
Well, I would point to design and engineering features like the cabinet design and materials, the ALT lenses, thermal protection for all drivers, the proprietary and patented ABL circuitry to extend the bass frequency response, and provide further mechanical protection for the entire system etc; the individualised testing and record keeping etc - all of which costs money.
Personally, I'm prepared to pay extra for that extra engineering development and refinement, as I intend to keep the product indefinitely, and would not consider it otherwise useless 'bling'
A Vauxhall will get you down the road just as well as a Mercedes - but the Merecedes has a demonstrably far greater depth of engineering integrity in it from an engineering design, materials and safety point of view. Whether you want to pay the additional price of admission to get the Mercedes over the Vauxhall is up to the individual; however any objective analysis would show the qualities that the Mercedes offers over and above the Vauxhall, and that some people are happy to pay extra for.
Ditto I feel with B&O, Meridian, B&W etc - they're premium products for a reason - not just sound. That's not to denigrate or belittle other products either, but all things being equal, I do think you tend to get what you pay for at the end of the day, looking at the overall picture, including the likes of second hand values in other countries etc, should you decide to sell or trade up etc, plus spares over the lifetime of the product etc.
Of course, just my opinion, but one born of experience.
Actually, not born of experience, since I thought you said elsewhere you haven't heard the AVI speakers. Also, you seem a little bedazzled by the B&O engineering at the expense of real sound quality. It is all highly subjective, of course, but I'd argue that in purely loudspeaker driver technology and innovation then KEF, Usher and Q acoustics are up there with B&O, not to mention ML and Apogee.
also, there's a problem with your car analogy. Mercedes are stodgy to drive compared with most other brands .
Well, there's an old saying, but a true one; opinions are like A******S and everyone has one. Especially since the internet allows every man and his dog to stand up and demand attention, whether they have any real knowledge or not.
I havent heard the AVI's - I live in Autralia after all - but I have had 40+ years experience in this hobby, and most certainly know first hand what it is like to get ripped off by manufacturer, fanboy and magazine subjective drivel and hype.
I've given my ownership experience of B&O, as I was asked to do so by a member here, in the hope of assisting the OP, and like anything, it's only an opinion, albeit as I am a trained classical musician in trumpet, piano and voice, I'd say I have a pretty reasonable Idea of what 'sound' is like when it comes to desribing natural, realistic etc. And, as I think a reading of any of my infrequent posts is likely to show, I try to be as fair, even and balanced as possible in my assessment of kit, when either asked, or in offering an opinion.
I accept that you feel that B&O's engineering bedazzles as against offers real sound quality - it's an opinion after all - but when you are a tertiary trained audio, electrical, or acoustics engineer, like the people who design B&O's kit, I'll take your comments as a highly qualified and knowledgeable professional - otherwise, and with respect, your opinion means no more than mine, as I am an amateur after all - just like you to the best of my knowledge.
I have an engineering background as well, so thoroughness and refinement in engineering deeply impresses me, but lets leave that out of the argument for the time being.
I suggest you do some reading up on B&O and form your own conclusions - after all it's your money, and you need to make the choices that you feel are right for you, just as I do.
I've done my level best to write in depth about B&O, since they are often disparaged by audiophiles, and point out their professional R&D, audio and acoustic engineering strengths, in a fair, and balanced manner, and hopefully without boring people.
The OP has decided he is interested enough to have a listen, and I'm happy to leave it there - my 'job' if you will, in helping explain what B&O has to offer, which may or may not be of interest the OP, is done. I'm not a salesperson for B&O, and it is neither my concern, or my business whether he buys B&O or not, and certainly, and with respect, I have little concern what you like or do not like, think is good or not good - it's irrelevant to my consumer chices in life, just as my choices and preferences in consumer goods in life are irrelevant to you.
Nor do I wish to try and convince others that the only system that is likely to 'work' or is the 'best' is B&O. I'm not like that, and to be honest wouldn't have got involved in this thread other than that B&O was mentioned, as was my name, and hopes that I would contribute and offer a worthwhile opinion to the OP.
I feel I have done that, so am happy to bow out of the discussion accordingly.
Certainly getting involved in pointless comment that relates more to the size of my ego in terms of alpha male 'mine is bigger and better than yours' consumer one upmanship games, is of zero interest to me, as is obsessive and neurotic audiophile discussion about who makes the better drivers, cables, connectors, amplifier sound, and all the usual subjective amateur audiophile spectulation and arguments about kit. For example, I'm told that the drivers in the ADM40's are 'much' better than the ones in my Beolab 9's. Needless to say, the AVI person who made the statement, has no idea whatsoever what the actual drivers in the Lab 9's are - and neither do I, nor do I care. I just care about the end result, which is the music, and which is the main reason for buying them, is it not?
A friend of mine who owns a BMW is forever telling me about the wonderful technology in it, and how it is far superior to my car - but beyond checking the oil, he wouldn't know one end of a spanner from the other. He also spends a lot of time with it in the garage being repaired, where I just drive mine, and enjoy the ride - the main purpose of buying it - not to gloat about the technology and play silly alpha male games.
Oh, and good luck with your sporty car, gridlocked in traffic crawling along at 10 kph, and for getting done for exceeding the speed limit by a measly 2kph - such is the political correctness here which sees speeding as a criminal offence.
Perhaps you were swayed by the scantily clad beauty, draped over the bonnet of said sporty car in the advertising brochure, to make you think you will be suddenly either very attractive to woman, or be turned into a pseudo racing driver.
Reality unfortunately, says otherwise. If sportiness in a car is an unachievable dream in real life, as to being actually able to use it in current road, traffic, and regulatory conditions, I'll take luxury and comfort any day, even if that equates to stodginess in your view..
As for driving a Merc - which I do - I apologise, and will make sure I consult with you before buying my next car.... I had no idea they were so 'bad'..lol
A pair of these (if you can get on with how they look) and a streamer. £10K all in.
Squeezebox Touch | Wadia 151 | Aliante Moda PF
jm, I said I thought you were a bit bedazzled by the B&O engineering, and I'd agree it is first class. The point was it is easy to forget there are many other speaker and driver manufacturers who are its equal both in excellence and in being at the forefront of louspeaker design. Also, it is quite possible, as I said, not to be enamoured of the sound despite the engineering, as each designer has their own idea of what sounds good or realistic.
Also, I didn't say Mercedes were bad, merely stodgy. Happy to advise you about means of transport, but bear in mind bikes are my thing. I have driven Mercedes, BMW, Saab and Volvo, but that was in Sydney more than 10 years ago. I'd recommend Bianchi, probably for the same reasons as you like Mercedes and B&O
Now they would be a good idea, lovely neat package! They look a bit more room (WAF) friendly than a lot of horn speakers.
Michell Gyrodec SE / RB300 / Ortofon MC10 Supreme | Sony DVP-S9000ES
Doge 8 | MiniDSP | Decware Zen / Behringer A500
DIY Active Horns / Keesonic Kolt
© 2013 Haymarket Publishing