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New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Hi - I'm looking to get a new amp/speaker setup for my lounge. I will put the TV through it, but am not bothered about surround sound etc. Only plan to have 2 speakers (well, plus sub-woofer if it is needed) and much more interested in quality of music library than TV.

 

My sound source will mostly be my iPod (or drive with same on it). Most of this is ripped at 320/vbr, but still a lot of my earlier rips were done at 192, and don't know if I'll ever get the time to redo! But might, over time...

 

I had originally budgeted about £1k in total for amp & speakers. Yesterday I auditioned Marantz 6004 & both B&W CM1's & MA RX1's.  Overall was very dissapointed in sound. Some things sounded OK...others just sounded...small, boxed in.

 

So I asked to try some floor standing speakers, and listened to some MA RX6's. This pushed me out of my budget, but that's OK. I wasn't going to pay £1k for a sound I would never be happy with. 

 

Conclusion - some things sounded absolutely amazing on the RX6's, but some tracks still were a dissapointment. I was wondereing whether the quality of the setup was revealing weaknesses in the original recording, or in the quality of the compression (oh, forgot to say, shop was running my iPod wirelessly through an Arcam DAC). I then compared tracks I knew were encoded at 320 vbr and above,  to ones with a lower bt rate...and couldn't really detect that this was making the difference.

 

It seemed to me that, when the track was quite simple (just acoustic guitar & voice, solo piano, solo cello) the setup sounded amazing. but as soon as a full orchestra, or more complex band music came in, the quality dived. It just got muddy, lack of clairity, lack of focus. That doesn't happen with same sound source in my headphones (Bose over ear, or Kplisch in-ear) or my car, so why should it here?)

 

Is this the amp or the speakers? (oh, one more thing - the speakers occasionally 'boomed' on bass notes. Don't know if this was an affect of the demo room I was in, or the speakers themselves).

 

I've been reading a bit about the Kef R100's - would this be a better choice than the RX1's? Should I be considering another amp?

If I were prepared to push my budget up to, say a max of £2k for both amp & speakers (I'd rather not! But if I had to, for a sound I was happy with, I would), could I be looking at something that would be significantly better than this setup?

 

Any tips greatly appreciated!!

 

Thanks,

Mark

 

The music I was listening to was:

Weather Report - various tracks from Heavy Weather

Steely Dan - tracks from Aja, Royal Scam, & others

Keith Jarret - solo piano

Joni Mitchell - various

Mahler - symphony 9

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

"would this be a better choice than the RX1's" was of course a typo, should have referred to the RX6's I was listening to, not RX1's.

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Hmm...just realised the Kef R100's I mentioned are actualyl bookshelf speakers, not floorstanding ones. Well, after the dissapointment I had with the CM1's & the RX1's, I think I want to steer clear of bookshelf speakers, unless I'm told these R100's really are in a different class, and can compare to the MA RX6's.

 

but assuming the R100's are 'out' for now, what would you recommend as an alternative to the MA RX6's that might handle complex music better?

 

Thanks!

Mark

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Perhaps the Tannoy Revolution DC6T?

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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Given that you're using the source you are, have a think about the Onkyo TX8050 network stereo receiver.  It has a USB input on the fascia and uses its own DAC to apply conversion but takes the data feed from your iPod/iPad (or whichever source you happen to use through it - note NOT a computer, specifically mentioned in the manual, the DLNA side of things takes care of that).  100wpc, good internal build ample power for the likes of the MAs and with a sound quality that's hard to believe at the price.  

Original retail price came in at £499 a year or so back, but I think this is now an outgoing line and you can get it for £249 off Amazon (Hughes Direct) or Play.com or some high street retailers (Richer Sounds and Superfi will price match).

Have a listen to the R100s - they might not be floorstanders, but I imagine a well run-in pair will deliver a bigger sound than you might believe for their size.  I heard a pair the other week when I demoed some compact standmounts and they could put out the noise - huge bass but would've dominated in my room.  If you have a big room, then you can pick and choose.  I think the Onkyo would work very well with Q Acoustics 2050i if you want a really huge sound, but best thing to do is try before you buy and sort out a demo.  

Lastly, check around this site for some of my thoughts on the Onkyo (there's a few... *cough*) plus the web.  There are few reviews (only one from Germany to date) but the owner reviews are pretty much positive across the board.

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

I don't think the PM6004 is the right amplifier if you're looking for an expansive soundstage. Considering your music and budget, I'd be looking at Rotel (RA04SE), with Dynaudio (DM 2/6) speakers and the MF VDac II. All have larger siblings (RA06, DM2/7 and M1DAC) should you want more.

There are few floorstanders that fit both your budget and my liking, other than the Kef iQ series which is sadly discontinued. In the same price range as the RX6 you can find the Dali Ikon range, Tannoy Revolution (I prefer the Signature DC4T over the regular DC6T) and B&W 684. The latter needs a better amplifier then either PM6004 or RA04, I think.

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Many thanks for this feedback. I'll check your suggestions out.

 

Cheers,

Mark

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Thanks Tremon - quite a few new things for me to investigate here! Wink

 

But very helpful suggestions.

 

Many thanks,

Mark

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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

MA RX6 are amazing speakers, probably the best in their price range. They might be a bit boomy sometimes as they need some space behind. After running in things got much better for me. They need quite some time to sound at their best. 

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

memarkiam wrote:
Thanks Tremon - quite a few new things for me to investigate here!
YW.

I'm not from the UK, so I don't know which brands are easily available and which are hard to find. I prefer to drop a lot of brands and then hope that at least one will be available in your area Smile

Anonymous
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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Thanks 'the record spot'. Yes, there does seem to be some good feedback on the Onkyo, with some caveats around some of the network streaming functionality. But my question would be, if this box is cramming in a network streamer, and a DAC, how much of the budget out of current £249ish price is left for quality ampi'ing?

 

Well, perhaps this is immaterial, if the device sounds as good as you (and some of the other reviewers) imply - I guess I just need to audition it. But I still wonder if I spent all my money on the amp bit, and worried about DAC & network streaming another day, whether I wouldn't get a better amp?

 

Just a thought! Wink

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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

Audition the Onkyo and make your own mind up.  I've owned most of the budget amps out there - Marantz PM6003, Rotel RA04SE, Yamaha A-S500, NAD C326, Yamaha A-S700, Cambridge Audio 350A and 650A plus several others - and I find the Onkyo more satisfying and enjoyable than any of them.  It gets a superb performance out of my Quad speakers, which aren't the easiest and can sound veiled with an amp that doesn't get them sufficient current.  Of course, no amp will work equally well with every speaker so an audition is the best way.

Of those other budget amps the Marantz is very good but can lack some clarity, particularly in the bass, and won't give difficult speakers enough current.  The NAD is a very capable amp with plenty of current for driving most speakers, but it can get a bit bass heavy and almost hollow sounding in the bass if not partnered with real care.

The Rotel is an excellent amplifier and I have little to criticise about it.  Likewise the Cambridge Audio 650A which is a heck of an amp for the £250 price tag it is now being sold for, end of line.  The 650A will give you clarity in spades, though you need to be very careful to avoid clinical sounding speakers to achieve a satisfying end result.

Rega RP3/Elys 2 - Graham Slee Gram Amp 1 - Rotel RCD965BX - Exposure 1010 amp - Dynaudio DM2/6 - Chord Co. Chameleon VEE3/Rumour 2 - Musical Fidelity V90-HPA - Sennheiser HD595

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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

According to the German test, the NAD 316BEE is better than the Onyo in terms of amplification, but note that was with far better quality speakers than you'd usually put on the Onkyo - Kef Reference 207/2, no less. The NAD, so they said, controlled the speakers more and treble was less sibilant. Points - Onkyo 68, NAD 70. As a point of reference, the new Rega Brio R scored 90 and the Nait5i 95.

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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

altruistic.lemon wrote:

According to the German test, the NAD 316BEE is better than the Onyo in terms of amplification, but note that was with far better quality speakers than you'd usually put on the Onkyo - Kef Reference 207/2, no less....

.....Blimey! That would measure how "less bad" they sound.

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

For a 'passive' setup, I'd say the Onkyo looks favourite, largely due to its functionality, add whatever speakers suit your taste/remaining budget.

For an 'active' setup, have a look at the AVI ADM 9s

There are benefits to both routes, but for now, I'm in the active camp. The explanations as to the differences between active and passive speakers are perhaps best found elsewhere, so that the thread does not become bogged down.

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RE: New Amp/Speakers Quuestion

altruistic.lemon wrote:

According to the German test, the NAD 316BEE is better than the Onyo in terms of amplification, but note that was with far better quality speakers than you'd usually put on the Onkyo - Kef Reference 207/2, no less. The NAD, so they said, controlled the speakers more and treble was less sibilant. Points - Onkyo 68, NAD 70. As a point of reference, the new Rega Brio R scored 90 and the Nait5i 95.

 

I think those scores were for "RCA Phono" performance as their mag put it in the review.  I assume that means via analogue outputs.  Yet the write-up is far more indicative of where they were coming from I think.  

And, I have to say that having been round more than my fair share of amps this past two or three years, I echo what matthewpiano mentioned earlier.  The sound quality is of a high order indeed - YMMV - but given I've now heard it with a variety of sources and speakers, I'm yet to be disappointed with it.  In fact, that surprises me as I thought I'd need to make allowances for something...the Onkyo probably isn't the best out there, you can only work with the budget you've got to do the design and build, but I'd certainly be prepared to vouch for it being one of the most satisfying.  

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