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How much difference is there, in truth?

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matthewpiano's picture
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Many of us have bought into the 'seperates are best' mantra and, at one time, I could say with some confidence that this is correct.  However, is it still the case?

At the budget level there is competition from some very capable all-in-one units like the Denon RCD-M39DAB, Onkyo CR-N755, Marantz M-CR603, and the Denon CEOL range.  Are these really so very far off the performance of budget seperates like the 6004 series, especially when used at acceptable domestic volume levels?  Do the added features of some of these systems outweight any slight difference in sound, giving easy access to a wealth of music via DAB, internet radio, CD, Spotify and others?

Like-wise at a higher price level, is there really much advantage to buying seperates instead of a Naim Uniti, UnitiQute or a pair of AVI speakers (and yes, I know these are a quite different proposition)?

Maybe technology now enables us to enjoy the music more easily without a plethora of big 430mm boxes taking over the living space.  What do you think?

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

I believe that the differences between most audio equipment is not as great as many would imagine. I have seen various articles where very cheap equipment was indistinguishable from much more expensive set ups in blind testing to confirm as much, but then my personal reasons for buying a piece of audio equipment, are not entirely for audio quality, but also for a variety of other reasons. I suspect that this is the same for most of us.

I also don't enjoy my music any less when listening to it on any device other than my ADMs, beit car audio, headphones or kitchen mini system.

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

 well most cd players and tuners are fairly empty boxes with a footprint to match the amp. a pair of hard to drive speakers will always need something chunky to drive them though. the all in one is a very tempting proposition and if did not already have what i have now i would get something like a uniti and pair it with some suitable speakers.

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

bluebrazil wrote:

 well most cd players and tuners are fairly empty boxes with a footprint to match the amp. a pair of hard to drive speakers will always need something chunky to drive them though. the all in one is a very tempting proposition and if did not already have what i have now i would get something like a uniti and pair it with some suitable speakers.

+1

I agree, I really enjoy my system - have no intention of changing it apart from upgrading my speakers.

If I knew what I know now 18mths ago I would of probably gone for a Naim all-in-one with a pair of RS3s.

I stumbled upon vinyl by accident, I discovered the loudness wars and how the CD format is compressed & poorly mastered!

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

Well, I have a Pioneer A-30 amp, a Beresford Caiman DAC and my source is my PC.

I was very dissapointed when I had the Marantz M-CR603 here for a while. My pioneer A-30/Beresford DAC sounds so much better. No comparison.

Just my opinion though.

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

No surprise coming from me, but the Onkyo TX8050 is easily up there. Lovely amp that delivers form and function in one unit. Sound quality is excellent and I've been unfailingly impressed by it in the 18 months I've had it.  As good as any separates set up that I've had.

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

The biggest difference is made by the speakers, the more expensive and the more accurate they are the more they will show up problems in other components that cheaper speakers don’t , therefore you have to get a balanced (And matched) system to give the best sound.

NOTE: Just because you have expensive speakers doesn’t mean you have to have an expensive amp (And vice versa) so long as they complement each other and give a realistic sound.

As always have a listen to various combinations that are within your budget, and buy what you like the best, then forget about anything else and just enjoy the music. (Too many Hi Fi Nuts chase after perfection rather than enjoying the music)

Hope this helps

Bill

chebby's picture
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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

"How much difference is there, in truth?"

Nowhere near as much as I expected.

Two years on and I don't miss anything about seperates.

I might buy the new M-CR610 when it emerges later in the year (because it will have one two extra bits n bobs) but it will have to be at least as good as the '603.

Instead of buying a Denon CEOL Piccolo for a second system (with my JPW Sonatas in the spare room) I will use my old M-CR603 instead.

Given a little more financial latitude/luck that would read "Naim UnitiQute" instead of "M-CR610". (But not seperates).

 

 

 

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

None of any note, when comparing like with like. The Uniti is one of the best sounding things I've had in the house, and whilst it was bettered by the SuperUniti, you might expect that given their relative costs.

I certainly don't get anxious about whether things are in one box or not, I get more anxious about whether they look good Smile

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

John Duncan wrote:
None of any note, when comparing like with like. The Uniti is one of the best sounding things I've had in the house, and whilst it was bettered by the SuperUniti, you might expect that given their relative costs. I certainly don't get anxious about whether things are in one box or not, I get more anxious about whether they look good Smile

... and one Naim box looks three times better than three Naim boxes.

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

There are very good technical reasons for keeping the DAC and the digital source in the same box.  The S/PDIF interface had known limitations at birth, and that was over 30 years ago.  So, at the very least, have your streamer or CDP co located with the DAC - which raises very good questions about the fashion for DACs in separate boxes.

The circuit board real estate taken up by streamers, DACs, (and now even amps, if class D) is tiny.  Why buy large empty boxes and string them together with cables?  I am a firm believer that the future is fully DSP active speakers with all the electronics, wifi, streamer, DSP, class D amps all in the same box.

When you last bought a car, did you buy the engine separately from the body and install it yourself? 

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

Don't think there is a cavernous difference as there once was. Many all-in-ones perform better than the sum of their parts. That said, I've not heard huge number of all-in-ones.

Above all else, it boils down to which ones you feel most comfortable with, I suppose.

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chebby's picture
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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

andyjm wrote:

I am a firm believer that the future is fully DSP active speakers with all the electronics, wifi, streamer, DSP, class D amps all in the same box.

I am with you there. I think B&W are ahead of the game in this respect. (Having heard their A7 and the little Z2, I am hoping to see an 'A9' or a larger, more fully featured, 'Z' model one day.)

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

chebby wrote:

"How much difference is there, in truth?"

Nowhere near as much as I expected.

Two years on and I don't miss anything about seperates.

I might buy the new M-CR610 when it emerges later in the year (because it will have one two extra bits n bobs) but it will have to be at least as good as the '603.

Instead of buying a Denon CEOL Piccolo for a second system (with my JPW Sonatas in the spare room) I will use my old M-CR603 instead.

Given a little more financial latitude/luck that would read "Naim UnitiQute" instead of "M-CR610". (But not seperates).

 

 

 

 

are the Marantz & Unitiqute quite different things. 

The Marantz has cd & airplay, does the Naim have airplay now ?

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chebby's picture
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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

richardw42 wrote:

are the Marantz & Unitiqute quite different things. 

The Marantz has cd & airplay, does the Naim have airplay now ?

AirPlay can be sorted with a little £99 ATV connected at the back. (A bit of a retrograde step, in terms of reducing clutter, but it's quite small and easily tucked away.) At least the Unitis have more than one optical digital input so not a deal breaker.

Anyway, can't afford £1150 right now so the point is moot.

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RE: How much difference is there, in truth?

When I bought my Esdoteric RZ-1 I wasl also listening to the Marantz PM15S2 and matching CD player. The prices were similar and I thought the difference in performance was negliible. Maybe an extensive home audition might have revealed more. The difference in the amount of space they took up and the ability to use the DAC section of the RZ-1 meant it was a clear winner.

Maybe if my circumstances changed in terms of space then I'd switch to separates. Most likely I'd keep the RZ-1 and PMC DB1is for a bedroom/2nd system.

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