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5.1 receiver for B&W CDM 1NT

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by eddie_talbot, May 21, 2003.

  1. eddie_talbot

    eddie_talbot
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    I have a 5.1 system, although very much enjoy stereo too.

    To enhance my stereo experience I have replaced my B&W 601 S2 speakers with some CDM 1NTs, although have kept my cheap rears and the CC6 S2 centre because I was put off by the size of the CDM centre. Sub is a REL Q200E.

    I have been thinking of possibly upgrading my Sony STR-DB930 receiver to something a little bit more upmarket.

    The thing is, I only have about three sources - basically my Panasonic E50 for CD/DVD that connects optically, my PC that connects with coaxial digital, and a portable FM stereo radio.

    It seems wasteful to buy a massive receiver with a million inputs - I just don't need them all, and I don't need video switching ! But I would like A/B speaker posts so I can bi-wire.

    Does anyone have any ideas/recommendations ?
     
  2. sounddog

    sounddog
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    What's your budget?

    The problem is that to get the most from your CDM 1NTs you need a good amp ... and a amp of similar quality to the 1NTs is not going to be cheep and will have all the features that you don't want (i.e. lots of inputs, video switching, etc). Also I'm not sure how well the CC6 centre is going to fit sonically with the CDM 1NT so you may have to bite the bullet and look at upgrading the centre as well.

    For a full integrated reciever ... you should be looking at models like the Pioneer 2011, Denon 3803, Sony 555, etc as a minimum to do justice to the speakers. Or look at the second hand market for things like the Yamaha A1, Denon A1, top end Pioneers, etc - though the older models don't tend to be so good with music as more modern amps. Other (better) alternatives would be looking at low end pre/processors and poweramps - Rotel 1066 at £1000, the Cyrus AV8 at £1200, a second hand TAG AV32R from around £1300 and so on, used with a 5 channel power amp - something like the Rotel 1075 or it's second hand ancestors. What ever you do with the amp though your Panasonic DVD writer is never going to make the most of music when used as a CD player so look at adding a dedicated CD player as well.

    The third option would be to look at getting a intergrated stereo amp and a cd player to make the most of your speakers ... but again to suit the CDM 1NT you should be looking at around the Arcam A85 with CD72 or CD82 (this is an example ... there are lots of alternatives out there).

    Hope this helps ...
    Vikki

    PS ... you don't need A/B speaker posts to be able to bi-wire ... just get cables made up with both sets of cable into 1 set of plugs.
     
  3. eddie_talbot

    eddie_talbot
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    Hello Vikki, thanks for the advice it is much appreciated.

    I've no problem buying second hand. I do feel that possibly the processor/power amp combo might be a bit OTT for me, and would prefer it all integrated into one unit. I like to be a space saver if possible as I don't have bags of room to put all of this stuff.

    I'd definitely like Dolby-Pro Logic II which is what I don't have at the moment.

    I might investigate some Arcam and Rotel products.
     
  4. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Denon A11SR, perhaps...?
     
  5. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Like I say ... whats your budget ... If you can afford it ... the Rotel RSX1055 might be worth investigating. Basically it's the RSP1066 processor with 5x 105w (think it's 105w) power amps built in plus a tuner. RRP is about £1200 (off top of my head). Other alternatives would be Marantz SR8200, possibly the SR9200 as they were being sold (relatively) cheep recently, and the NAD T762.

    Still would advise though that for the best music though you're going to have to get a CD play in addition to the DVD writer.

    Vikki
     
  6. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    IMO using Rotel separates with 1NTs is a waste of money. The Rotel stuff is very good, but the speakers will be the limiting factor as far as sound quality; so it won't actually sound appreciably better than using substantially cheaper driving electronics.
     
  7. eddie_talbot

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    Vikki, I really wouldn't like to spend more than £1500 absolute max for an amplifier/processor together. In comparison my current Sony only cost about £400 !

    My feeling is that going more expensive than this would probably incur the law of diminishing returns fairly quickly, i.e. spending loads to get little improvement. The RSX-1055 looks interesting - rather large though !!

    Doesn't anyone make them slimmer ? Interesting comment from the other poster about Rotel.
     
  8. hornydragon

    hornydragon
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    I would say your best bet might be good AV integrated with a new dedicated CD player or an AV amp with DD/ PL2 and preouts for an nice integrated stereo to drive the fronts If the current sony has pre outs add a good sterao amp and CD if not look at denon 1803/2802 and an Arcam sterao amp and CD player or rotel etc etc a demo will be the best bet. As it always is. most dealer should demo you a stereo set up using CDM 1NT's and suitably priced stereo amp, CD then demo an AV amp with preouts PL2 etc and finally it all together to see what you think.
     
  9. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Have to disagree with you Nicholas ... using the RSP1066 / RMB1075 / RB985MkII (biamping fronts) with 602/LCR60/601 gets a lot better sound than using Marantz SR5200. And also the 602 sounded appreciably better driven by the RA1060 than the (price matched) RA02.

    Now getting better speakers is the next thing to upgrade in our system and I would probably go for better speakers than CDM series ... but (IMO) using a better amp with worse speakers is better than using a worse amp with better speakers.

    Vikki
     
  10. eddie_talbot

    eddie_talbot
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    Thanks for the advice. I will probably pass on the dedicated CD player though. Audophiles reading this are probably going to kill me, but I have started moving away from CDs towards MP3 !

    I recently ripped my entire collection to 256Kbps, and increasingly listen via the S/PDIF output from the Asus motherboard. It's very convenient.

    The motherboard even encodes real-time into DD5.1, although I switch this off for music. Great for games though.
     
  11. sounddog

    sounddog
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    No one is going to (even metaphorically) kill you for using MP3 rather than playing CDs ... but I would question the wisdom of spending £750 on CDM1NT to "enhance my stereo experience" when you are listening to MP3s.
     
  12. eddie_talbot

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    Actually I bought them second-hand for about £500. Now, I know that at the moment the rest of my components don't really match the quality of the speakers hence my original question.

    I played some MP3s and CDs through them and I think the speakers improve both. The CDM has definitely got a better tweeter than the 601s and a better bass presence that seems to merge into my subwoofer more effectively.

    In my defence I did rip the MP3s at a very high bitrate. I do remember reading a website where they did a survey amongst hardened audiophiles.

    Most could tell the difference between CD and a 128Kbps MP3 (and I know I can), but the vast majority could not tell any difference between CD and a 256Kbps MP3. I am in no way a hardened audiophile, just someone who wants very good quality so that was good enough for me.
     
  13. JonLeach

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    Vikki i have a friend who is still using Dynaudio 42's (£400) been driven by £5000 worth of Naim pre/power, and he has just replaced his CD player to a naim cdx. Those £400 DYN's sound so sweet. you should audition them.

    i agree i use a 320kps and you can't really tell swapping between the original and ripped, it's just makes it convenient.


    Eddie if you want small AV up your budget and get the Cyrus AV8 as Sounddog suggested.

    Jon
     
  14. eddie_talbot

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    Had a look at a few websites about the Cyrus AV8. That's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. Slim build, no video switching circuitry, good reviews in stereo and DPL-II. Drool !

    It appears that any Power Amplifier can be used, and to minimise cost I may scour the classifieds and eBay to find something suitable.

    Thanks again for all your input.
     
  15. mick23

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    i have cdm1nts lcr60+600s3 +denon 3802, nad 541 cd.

    some time ago i tried cyrus7 with cdms at home vs 3802 sterio only, i have to admit that my hearing in left ear is not so good,so i did not notice c7vs 3802 being night and day in my case.

    my mate heard 3802vs c7 and thought c7 was miles better.

    moorgate accoustics are doing new cyrus 7 for £450+postage £12in black or silver, they will allow you to try at home for 10days,if not happy you can return c7 but pay return postage.

    i realise this is c7 integrated and not the av cyrus amp, but it will give you a chance to try at home for modest cost,
     
  16. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Vikki,

    We may have to agree to disagree to some extent. I could produce my own counter-example: I once listened to a Pioneer AX10 hooked into Sonus Faber Home speakers, and (later) to a Meridian 568.2 plus Krell Showcase amplifer with the same speakers, and there was hardly any perceptible improvement, despite the fact that the driving electronics had gone from £2.5K to nearly £9K.

    But the main thing is, you need to ask the right questions. You shouldn't be asking "will it sound better if I get this?" Of course using Rotel kit with B&W 600 series 3 speakers will sound better than a cheapo Marantz will. But what you should be asking is, is this the maximum improvement in sound quality I can get by spending that amount of money? And a severely unbalanced system is never the right way to go.

    As for the quality of the amplification being more important than the quality of the speakers, I'm afraid I think you're just flat out wrong :) unless you meant the quality of the processor and amplification stages combined. But even then, unbalancing the system is still not the right way to go unless you have plans for an ambitious upgrade farther down the line.
     
  17. sounddog

    sounddog
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    When I was talking about quality of amplification ... I was meaning the processor and amplification ... sorry wasn't clear.

    I'm not advocating an unbalanced system really .. I just fell that a balanced system isn't necessarily just spending same on amp as front 3 speakers. From my (admitedly quite limited) experience, I've found that most speakers take to higher end amplification (meaning processing and amplification) better than high end speakers taking to lower end amplification. I accept your Pioneer / Sonus / Meridian + Krell example is just as valid as my Marantz / B&W / Rotel example ... but in my mind it just goes to show that creating a balanced systems isn't just about the RRP of products.

    Vikki

    PS. sorry this has got off topic.
     
  18. MikeK

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    The differences between a CD track and the same track ripped to MP3 at 256k, may not smack you in the face in the same way they do when comparing a 128k (or lower) MP3, but they are still there.

    IMO, it also depends on the material in question, and the system it's played back on. No offence, but I'd wager most people (inc me) couldn't tell the difference when the two are played back from the average home PC either (specialist PCs? OK, maybe).
    Same goes for in car, walkmans....etc etc.

    Not having a go at MP3, it's great for what it was intended for, but it's IMO it's not equivalent to CD, and never can be.
    It's close, but no cigar!!! :)

    While changing your amp may give some improvements, they are likely to be marginal IMO (weighed against cost) - the weakest link in your system is the source, both software and player.


    Just like if you used a cheap portable walkman CD player as the main source, there are limits as to what any hifi system, no matter how costly, can do with it! Sure, a Bryston amp and Wilson speakers may sound better than a Sony930 and 1NTs (although that's probably debatable), but spend a fraction of the cost of the Bryston/Wilson on, lets say something like a CD92 to replace the walkman, and see if it's still true then :) :p

    As Nicolas touched on above, balance is important in maximising the performance for a given budget.
    Putting CDM1NT speakers onto a £200 midi system won't turn that midi system into a £1000+ hifi system, any more than plugging a CD92 into the AUX port will! You can do either, and you may get some benefits, but it's highly debatable whether most people would consider them worth the cost!
    Spend that same money on a well balanced system though, and it would, IMO, sound better than either of the above!


    It's your money, and it's up to you how you spend it, but I'd consider your options carefully before spending your cash - you may be well into the realms of diminishing returns a lot sooner than you might think!
     
  19. HotblackDesiato

    HotblackDesiato
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    Out of interest did you hook up more esoteric speakers to demonstrate they could reveal the improvement in driving electronics? I'm just wondering if diminishing returns was also playing a role in this instance.
    [---]

    To me this seems a bit formulaic...why let prices tags govern what you stick together rather than your ears?
     
  20. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I haven't listened to the 568.2 + Krell Showcase combination in particular with better speakers, but I've listened to plenty of other setups with much higher-end speakers than Sonus Faber Home, and there's a vast difference. 568.2 into Meridian DSP5500 speakers I thought sounded fabulous (although it bloody well ought to at that price). And, while I'm not a great fan of ATC SCM50s in value for money terms, they're certainly immeasurably much better than a set of passive speakers costing £1600! There's a very big jump indeed even going to my Nautilus 803s with a decent amplifier.

    It is actually quite depressing how perceptible the difference in quality is, even at a high level. There's a big jump, for example, between an Arcam AV8 (£3K) and a Bryston SP1.7 (£4.25K) and another big jump between that and a Lexicon MC12B (£9K). I really wish there weren't, believe me.


    Nobody is advocating that: please lay of the feeble attempts at reductio ad absurdum. Much of the time companies have enough sense to price their product at a point where it is more expensive than inferior products and less expensive than superior ones. If a product is cheaper than it could sell for, then they will lose money from small profits per item. If it's too expensive they'll lose sales. This is by no means always true, and obviously one's ears should always be the ultimate guide.

    The overall issue is that there needs to be balance in quality between one component and another in the same system. If you stick incredibly high-quality speakers onto a low quality AV receiver, you're wasting the money you've spent on the speakers. If you stick low quality speakers on a high-quality receiver/amp then you're wasting the money you've spent on the receiver. Price forms a very approximate rule-of-thumb for what level it might be appropriate to be auditioning at.
     
  21. HotblackDesiato

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    Fair enough... i agree there are better speakers than the Sonus Faber's... and i'd hope they'd show the differences more clearly between the Pioneer and the Meridian.

    I've never got into the Lex area, thankfully, and while i've heard Arcam, Tag, and Bryston separately, and all impressed, i've never backed to backed them, fortunately, if the performance jumps are as large as you describe!

    Apologies, i should have left it a "A bit formulaic".

    All of which i agree with...i guess i took your original use of the word balance more rigidly than you'd clearly intended it to be taken. So...and to get back to the thread...i guess my question should really be... would 750UKP speakers really be that "out of place" on the end of a Rotel processor/power set-up? With 753s strapped on the end of an AV5 and a couple of PSX-R'd Powers i await your response with a degree trepidation.;)

    Edit: Just seen the other thread so feel free to ignore these ramblings
     
  22. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    The most fundamental question, as I've said before, is not "will this make my system sound better?" but "is spending my money on this going to give me more of an improvement in sound quality than spending the same amount on something else?"

    You're in a slightly tricky position, there. If you could afford to get both some Rotel electronics and some better speakers as well (Nautilus 805/HTM2, say) then the improvement in the sound quality would be quite dramatic. But that's obviously pretty pricey.

    Conversely, buying something like a Denon A11SR, which is a tolerably good match for the 1NTs (although even there I'd be inclined to be thinking about a speaker upgrade) will save money - but there could be more gains to be had if you spend the rest of your budget, and there will be more tricky decisions if you do decide to upgrade in the future.

    I think this is one of those cases where the best way to get where you want to go is to start from somewhere else! :(

    I guess the question to ask is: how likely is it that you'll be upgrading the speakers in the next year or two? If 1NTs are definitely as high as you'll go for the foreseeable future, then my feeling is that buying an expensive processor/amp combination won't give you enough of a sound quality improvement for you to feel good about the purchase: you'd get more pleasure out of buying something cheaper and spending the rest on Green & Black's organic chocolate ice cream.

    But Vikki will no doubt disagree with me. :)
     
  23. HotblackDesiato

    HotblackDesiato
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    Interesting, you seem to favour more balance towards the speakers than i've typically used during my upgrading in both stereo and AV, but it's an approach i'll try and look at when i chop in the AV5 in the next 6months or so.
     
  24. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I am and I'm not going to disagree with you Nick ...

    I would say go demo the Denon A11SR (or similar) amp with your speakers, and demo that against the Rotel combo and maybe a TAG + Rotel power amp. Then YOU decide weather the improvement in sound is worth YOUR extra money.

    Vikki
     
  25. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I can agree with that, so long as you audition the chocolate ice cream for comparison. :)
     
  26. MikeK

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    I'm not sure I agree with either!

    In all the talk about speakers and amps, the source component/software seem to have been forgotten about.

    Still, each to their own I suppose!!!
     
  27. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    When you're talking about home cinema, the processor stage of the receiver, to all intents and purposes, is the source. That's obviously not as true if you're playing back CDs, especially if you're using the player's DACs. But yes, for music use the same underlying principle applies - the quality of the player should be on a par with the quality of the amp and speakers.



    Here's a good way of thinking about the problem. (You'll just have to trust me when I say that this is actually a valid way of looking at it).

    Imagine that the distortion introduced by one component (e.g. processor and amp) is represented by a horizontal line (the length of the line representing the amount of distortion), and the distortion introduced by a second component is represented by a vertical line. To get an idea about the total distortion introduced, join the two lines together and add a third to make a triangle - the length of the third side of the triangle (the hypotenuse) is likely to be a good measure of the total distortion of the system.

    So, we might have this:

    Code:
                      ,-'|
                   ,-'   |
                ,-'      |  speaker distortion
             ,-'         |
          ,-'_______,|
            processor &
          amp distortion
    
    
    What happens if we improve the processor and amp, but use the same speakers? The horizontal line gets shorter, but the vertical line stays the same:

    Code:
              /|
             / |
            /  |
           /   |
          /__,|
    
    Clearly, the length of the diagonal line does get shorter. But equally clearly, once you get to this sort of situation, shortening the horizontal line farther makes progressively less and less difference to the length of the diagonal - the diagonal gets closer and closer to being the same line as the vertical line, i.e. the distortion induced by the speakers is far and away the most significant factor in determining the overall sound.

    But suppose we improve the speakers by the same amount:

    Code:
    
                .
             .-'|
          .-'__|
    
    
    Now you're talking! Big effect on the overall distortion.

    So the trick is to make sure you aren't wasting your money by trying to make just one of the lines short.

    Adding a third component into the equation has much the same effect, it's just that you end up working in three dimensions, and that's really tough to draw! :)
     
  28. HotblackDesiato

    HotblackDesiato
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    I feel like i'm in a scene from Dead Poets Society! ;)
     
  29. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Yeah, but unlike poetry, signal distortion really does work like that.
     
  30. HotblackDesiato

    HotblackDesiato
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    Though like poetry a persons perception of that distortion may differ?
     

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