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~£450 amp suggestions

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by wombar, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. wombar

    wombar
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    Hi All,

    I mix my own music (rock, acoustic etc) and need something better than my creative speakers to mix on. I looked at some "Professional" nearfield monitors but to be honest, I think you're paying for the name, they sound very similar to a good quality hi-fi system to my ears and cost £1000 for 2 speakers. Of course you can get cheaper ones, but I'd prefer to spend some money on something that I can use to listen to music, watch movies etc.

    So basically I've got about £650-£700 to spend on a decent amp and some bookshelf speakers. I've been looking at the NAD C372 but I'm not convinced that I'll need the power so the 352 might be a better option, if anyone has an opinion on this please let me know. I was thinking of pairing that amp with either some KEF Q1's, B&W 602's or some B&W DM303's which are meant to be quite good for mixing on.

    Just out of interest, how big a difference is there going to be for music between one of the NAD amps and say a Denon 2105. The only reason I ask is the Denon has an optical in which would be handy for my mixer as that has an optical out. Of course, quality is the major concern so if there's a huge difference I'll steer well clear of the AV amps.

    If nothing else I need a system that is going to play the music the way it really sounds, I don't need exaggerated bass or treble which is why i like the idea of being able to bypass the EQ controls.

    So if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them. Thanks for any replies in advance :)
     
  2. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Primare A20 - rrp £800 70 Watt @ 8ohm

    Ex-dem - 2nd hand from Noteworthy Audio - with a warranty (great guys to deal with) :

    http://www.noteworthyaudio.co.uk/page105.html

    Slightly different league to the NAD you mention, Leaves you £350 for a nice set of speakers again there are loads about, but for example on that same offers page at Noteworthy you will see a slew of decent speakers, including Tannoy R2s for £175, these in tandem with the A20 would be a great system IMHO.

    Edit never noticed the Epos MS12s there, very nice speakers so for £650 you would have a stereo amp & speakers in a different league to what you were thinking of before.

    HTHs
     
  3. Knightshade

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    A nice neutral speaker would be the PMC TB2's. http://www.pmcloudspeaker.com/
    I know a guy in Bath who uses them for the same purpose you're planning on doing.
    As for amps? you'd be hard pressed to beat what CJCross has suggested.
     
  4. wombar

    wombar
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    Thanks a lot for the tips guys. Thats the nice thing about these forums, you find out about products you don't really hear about in magazines etc. I only live in Watford so I'll take a trip to Aylesbury tomorrow and see what they've got.

    As Noteworthy appear to stock PMC speakers as well I'll see what they're like while I'm there.

    Do you know what kind of warranty they offer on ex-demo and part exchanged items? I've always been a bit wary of buying 2nd hand stuff like this because I really can't afford to replace it in 6 months if it breaks down.

    Anyway, thanks a lot for the replies.
     
  5. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    6 Months IIRC. Wombar, go and speak to then in the shop and have a listen. This amp is a bargain and I would take it with a 6 month guarantee, some things are worth the risk.
     
  6. wombar

    wombar
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    Thanks for the quick reply.

    Well I'll go along and give it a listen tomorrow. I'll let you know how I get on.

    Cheers.
     
  7. Henry

    Henry
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    I just bought a second hand Naim Nait 3 amp on eBay for £250. Absolutely awesome and cracking value for money IMHO. With more and more people moving to AV kit, there's a lot of very good second hand stereo kit available which is very very good value for money.:smashin:
     
  8. wombar

    wombar
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    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Just out of interest, how much better quality is a £500 stereo amp compared to an AV amp just for music? Although it would be nice to have a 5.1 setup I'm more concerned with the better quality music. Is the difference fairly subtle or would you be able to pick out the stereo amp no problems?

    I've only had the chance to listen to a NAD 352(£300) and a Rotel RA01(£200) so far and to be honest, neither of them really sounded much better than my dads Denon 3805(£800). Of course neither of those amps is really in the same price bracket as that Denon.

    Anyway, I'd love to hear some opinions etc.
     
  9. Knightshade

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    As a general rule the dedicated stereo amp will sound better. The pre amp stages tend to limit AV Amps.
    Of course there are a few exceptions. The Linn AV 5103 for one.
     
  10. wombar

    wombar
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    :) Fair enough, although I don't think I can afford to pay for one of those at the minute. When I'm out and about tomorrow I'll ask for an A/B comparison between the two.

    Obviously I'm looking for quality here, but I'm also buying something to do multiple jobs. I'm taking along some badly mixed music of mine, I know how it needs to be mixed so it should give a good indication of how neutral each amp is. I'm not looking for the best sounding, I'm looking for the amp that is telling the truth, if that happens to be an AV amp (however unlikely) then thats the one that will be coming home with me.

    As usual all opinions are more than welcome, I'm still in 2 minds about what setup I'll go for but I'll keep you all updated with my progress tomorrow. Who knows, maybe I'll bring something home with me tomorrow if it sounds right.
     
  11. wombar

    wombar
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    Okay, everyone. I just thought you might like to know how I got on.

    I went to a couple of shops yesterday to talk to people and had mixed results. I went to a shop in Watford called Hi Fi City and they were great, they let me listen to a NAD C352 and some Quad 11Ls. Of course this combination sounded absolutely great compared to my current setup. However this isn't the aim of the exercise:)

    I need something that isn't going to make things sound great, I need something that is going to make things sound how they REALLY are. I took a song of mine that needed a lot of mixing and it sounded great which is not a good thing. As much as I enjoyed listening to it in all its glory, I need something that is going to represent a true sound and allow me to make it sound even greater.

    So I took the time to drive to Aylesbury and visit Noteworthy with high hopes. However, I got there and to my bemusement, they can't demo any equipment for me at all. Now if it was a saturday afternoon I could understand it, but at 2pm on a Friday afternoon I didn't expect I'd have to arrange a demo time. The problem is, someone was going off to do an install which only left one person on the shop floor. I know it's not really a big deal, but I've visited 5 other shops during the week(Mon-Fri) in the last 2 weeks and none have needed me to arrange a demo time. I know this is the way that these shops work, but when you've driven 45 minutes to get somewhere, it kinda makes you feel like your business isn't important to them. The staff were helpful enough so I can only put it down to bad timing. They suggested I look at some Rega amps, although I don't think they're really suitable for me as I'd like a volume control on the front. They said the primare was good but perhaps a bit laid back for what I needed.

    My mind is up and down at the moment, the way I see it I've got the following options.

    1) Get a set of nearfield monitors like the Mackie HR824.

    Plus Points
    Does exactly what I want them to do, show me the music as it really is.
    Smaller than an amp and speakers.
    Can connect them through XLR leads straight from my audio device(MOTU 896HD if anyone's interested)

    Minus
    EXPENSIVE!!!(£1k)
    I don't think they'll necessarily be the best everyday speakers. Some people complain about ear fatigue with them.

    2) Get a Decent Stereo Amp(NAD, Primare, etc) and Speakers(Quads, KEF, etc)

    Plus Points
    Cheaper(£700-800)
    Can be used for everyday listening
    Has a headphone and volume control on the front.

    Minus
    Takes up more space
    Might colour the sound
    Not many options to get a flat sound (bass, treble knobs is usually the extent)

    3) Get an AV amp(e.g Denon 1905, 2105) and some speakers for that.

    Plus
    Would have option of mixing in 5.1 at some point.
    Has loads of inputs that I can use to run from my audio device(optical in etc)
    Might have more control over the sound(more substantial eq?) allowing me to get a flatter sound.

    Minus
    Not as good for music(although I'm looking for a less than perfect sound)
    If I get a 5.1 setup, the speakers will be of lower quality.
    Takes up a lot more space

    Well those are my options, if you read all that well done. Roll on the opinions:)
     
  12. deanym

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    Wombar,

    Perhaps a second hand Musical Fidelity X-series integrated amp from ebay circa £350, low colouration of the sound and plenty of reserve power. Kef Q1's on a budget, or Quad 12L if your looking for a extremely clean but non-tiring sound. Also invest in some top notch headphones (sennheiser HD650/600) and a headphone amp. That combination tends be be even less coloured than speakers (room variances removed).

    Anyway best of luck.
     
  13. WhyAyeMan

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    I've never understood audiophiles obsession with this... why wouldnt someone want a system to make music sound great? Your comment comes across to me that you'd rather have a lesser system that made music sound like you think it should sound, and by the sound of it, you expect some recordings not to sound as good as they did on this system.

    Totally strange logic IMO, and I feel you may find out the hard way... I dont know about anyone else, but I want my system to make music sound great, otherwise whats the point?

    If you want to analyse your music BTW, you may as well go for Professional audio equipment, because it will be a lot more revealing and punishing than most home hifi, not to mention probably better value as well...
     
  14. superpixel

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    On that kind of budget, I'd think about a pair of Tannoy Reveal Active Monitors, and Sennheisser HD-25 headphones.

    If your mix sounds good on both of those, you're already doing better than a lot of professional productions. The headphones in particular are stunning classics - you'll hear every last detail. Without spending literally thousands of pounds, no speaker will give you that, even on the 2nd hand market.

    If you want something a bit more exciting on the speaker front, then the B&W DM601 or DM602s are superb, and incredibly revealing - right up there with the Mackies. Forget the DM300 series or any other budget bookshelf, they're just not in the same class and certainly cant be driven like the 600s. Pair with a high-power Rotel amp and you can't go wrong. A great combo for work and pleasure alike.
     

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