So I walked into Sevenoaks, Cambridge yesterday...
...and came out £1,700 poorer!
I've always wanted a half-decent 'budget' Hi-Fi set-up and after coming into a bit of money recently I finally bit the bullet. After wandering with a budget of around 1k for a complete system, from scratch, I was taken into the demo room with some Rotel and Marantzkit with Monitor Audio speakers. Neither really hit the mark and so I tried a pair of B&W 685s which made a difference, but just not the clarity I was hoping for.
When I first went in the chap mentioned that the Arcam kit was the next level up (a mate at Uni had some old kit and sounded really good) and so he brought in the A18 and CD17- what a difference!!! The sound with both sets of speakers was so much richer and more open but I preferred the 685s which seamed a bit more balanced to my untrained ears. With Chord interconnects, speaker cable and stands I ended up paying 3/4 more than I planned to, but I doubt I'll be changing anything soon- with the Rotel and Marantz I know I wouldn't have happy with and would end up replacing in the medium-term.
It looks like I've got a weekend of speaker positioning and tweaking to look forward to, oh and listening to a stack of CDs as welll!!