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Mini Hi-Fi or separates on a budget of £500?

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paddyb's picture
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I’m in the market for some new equipment. Looking to spend around £500 for complete package including CD player, amp, DAB or internet radio, some facility to play lossless files gaplessly and speakers.

The Marantz M CR603 seems to be the one to beat sound wise, but I’m wondering how it would compare to a separate amp/cd player combo such as:

Cambridge Audio AM5 + CD V4

Denon PMA 520 + DCD 520

Pioneer A10 + PD10

Denon PMA 720AE + DCD 720AE (pushing it budget wise)

I would need to add a streaming / digital solution to these which pushes the price up a fair bit, possibly a second hand netbook + cheapish DAC would be the best solution.

How would these sound in comparison with the MCR603 when playing though the same speakers (probably Dali Zensor 1’s, Q Acoustic 2020i’s or MA Bronze BX2’s). Worth the extra?

 

paddyb's picture
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RE: Mini Hi-Fi or separates on a budget of £500?

Just added "on a budget of £500" to the subject title as obviously seperates will be better if budget is no option.

Joined: 25 Jul 2011
Posts: 1858
RE: Mini Hi-Fi or separates on a budget of £500?

The Teac amp and cd players look interesting http://www.richersounds.com/product/amplifiers-receivers/teac/a-h01/teac-ah01. The amp has digital inputs so you can connect a computer directly. Good price at the moment.

Always audition, but. I've heard the Zensors and liked them, so it'd be my pick, but they're also my ears.

 

chebby's picture
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RE: Mini Hi-Fi or separates on a budget of £500?

paddyb wrote:

I’m in the market for some new equipment. Looking to spend around £500 for complete package including CD player, amp, DAB or internet radio, some facility to play lossless files gaplessly and speakers.

The Marantz M CR603 seems to be the one to beat sound wise, but I’m wondering how it would compare to a separate amp/cd player combo such as:

Cambridge Audio AM5 + CD V4

Denon PMA 520 + DCD 520

Pioneer A10 + PD10

Denon PMA 720AE + DCD 720AE (pushing it budget wise)

I would need to add a streaming / digital solution to these which pushes the price up a fair bit, possibly a second hand netbook + cheapish DAC would be the best solution.

How would these sound in comparison with the MCR603 when playing though the same speakers (probably Dali Zensor 1’s, Q Acoustic 2020i’s or MA Bronze BX2’s). Worth the extra?

I doubt that many people have compared an M-CR603 with such an extensive range of seperates.  It's not the idea. People tend to buy such all-in-one systems to escape collections of boxes and wires.

It is extremely good at what it does. (And it does a lot!)   It was originally £479 (+ £40 for AirPlay). It is now about £329 with AirPlay included from Richer Sounds.

If you can find a decent CD player + 50 wpc amplifier + FM/DAB tuner + internet tuner + optical DAC + Airplay (as seperates) for £500 - let alone £329 - then very good luck. (Even AirPlay will cost you the price of an AirPort Express or Apple TV if you buy seperates with no built in provision for it.)

£500 spent on just an amp and CD player should - in theory - sound better but the comparison is mostly irrelevant.

I changed from a seperates system (amp, CD player, tuner, bookshelf speakers) worth over £2000 - second hand - when I sold it two years ago. Two years later I am still very pleased with my M-CR603 and have no urges to return to all those racks and wires and boxes. Ultimately the original - seperates - system sounded better. (It would be stupid to say otherwise.) But to buy it all brand new now would cost about £4K. And yet I am still happier.

The comparisons you propose come from someone who is - evidently - happy to accomodate seperates (or you wouldn't have asked) so I suggest you go for it and buy a seperate CDP, amp and DAC etc.  Just make sure they are chosen very well. You don't automatically get a superior system just by sticking it in lots of boxes.

 

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Marantz M-CR603 • Rega R3 loudspeakers • AirPlay • Apple iPad Mini • Apple iPhone 5 • Apple iMac • Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11N • Humax HDR-Fox T2 • Panasonic TX-L32D25B • Sony BDP-S390

paddyb's picture
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RE: Mini Hi-Fi or separates on a budget of £500?

I’m ok space wise for separates and don’t mind the wires. I’d probably go for something like the bundles mentioned above as it comes in cheaper like that and I also like the idea of matching with components from the same manufacturer for neatness and compatibility sake.

The CR603 is almost certainly the mini system I’d go for, though I’d probably need to add the cost of a second hand netbook, iPod or Squeezbox Classic (£50-£100 should cover any of these options) so I can stream/play albums gaplessly (the 603’s one flaw for me).

I have heard the 603 and like it a lot, but the thing that runs through my mind is that if I don’t end using the built in streaming facility, then that’s an awful lot of functionality that I’ve paid for and am not making use of. However, if I need to spend much more than that anyway for an increase in sound quality, then I may as well just stick with the 603, one box to plug in, one remote, more compact etc.

I’ve read reviews on this forum from people who say the 603 will compete with any separates system under £1,000, which I obviously take with a pinch a salt, but I am interested in hearing from other forum members as to whether any of the CD Player/Amp combo’s above (and leaving DAB out of the equation for now), combined with the same digital solutions as I was thinking of for the 603, would sound any better? I will audition at some point, but rather than waste Richer Sounds with this, any feedback would be welcome.

 

chebby's picture
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RE: Mini Hi-Fi or separates on a budget of £500?

I don't think it will be right for you. 

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Marantz M-CR603 • Rega R3 loudspeakers • AirPlay • Apple iPad Mini • Apple iPhone 5 • Apple iMac • Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11N • Humax HDR-Fox T2 • Panasonic TX-L32D25B • Sony BDP-S390

paddyb's picture
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RE: Mini Hi-Fi or separates on a budget of £500?

You mean the 603 or separates won't be right? Not sure myself now any more! I guess I need to audition some more. I keep hearing about the Marantz PM6004 which even the 603 fans admit is an impressive amp for the money. Its going to come in over budget, but maybe I should give it a listen anyway just to compare.