Advice needed - bookshelf speakers + amp for open plan room

marcos alvarenga

Standard Member
Do you have any thoughts on the Cambridge Audio CXA61? I might be able to pick one of them up.
I went straight for the 81, so I can’t speak properly about the 61.

I was afraid it could not punch the 606s properly. But in my room I haven’t used 50% volume level so far. Besides my wall neighbour has a newborn. I have to wait.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I don’t think they paint the soundstage with large brush, if you know what I mean.

There Cambridge is better in that department. Rega is not bad by all means, still in my setup I never experienced the “analog” sound Rega is famous for.
Fair enough, each to his own. Depends on what speakers are being driven as well.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Fair enough, each to his own. Depends on what speakers are being driven as well.
Yes, I know. The KEF speakers you are using have coaxial drives (invented byTannoy) which makes the speakers more or less disappear in the listing room. Synergy is important.
 

Onlythesound

Active Member
Those new B&Ws tend to be quite bright sounding and the amount of toe in can change them dramatically as has been mentioned by owners and reviewers. Did you try this tweak with the 6000A (taken from review):
I DiD try the tweaks but that didn’t really solve my ‘lack of satisfaction’ with the set up. This, in my view, is the whole thing in Hi-fi and @Helix Hifi is right …whatever you do, try for the listen at home arrangements that some dealers offer. My own set up suits my ears/room/preferences etc. Yours must suit yours - in your room with all its reflection/obstacles etc. 😌
That said, I’m seriously looking at changing to true active monitors soon🤨
 

Hoku

Active Member

Hoku

Active Member
I googled it. Are they adhesive?
No. But they do offer a certain amount of suction, so they provide a nice firm fairly grippy footing for the speakers. They’re beautifully made.

I’ve used conventional gel pads and even acoustic foam pads before, but in terms of their sheer positive effect on sound, particularly with the bass, they’re a significant improvement on other products I’ve used.

And because they isolate from the stands so well, the stands themselves don’t place any unwanted acoustic character of their own on the speakers.

I once spent a fair bit of money on some very heavy speaker stands and acoustic filler for some previous speakers I had. At the time I used gel pads ontop of the steel stands. Somehow, although the stands raised the speakers to the desired height, they seemed to suck some of the life out of the speakers, so I’m not convinced the gel pads successfully isolated the speakers. It can be quite a faff, and an expense, getting the percentage of filler right with hollow steel stands, which is why I’ve really gone off them. And empty steel stands ring very badly. So they seem to create a problem that you then have to solve. To my mind it makes more sense to have stands that don’t ring in the first place.

My homemade ash and walnut stands with the ISO acoustics mini pucks retain all the life and fun of the speakers, but they also control the bass and keeping it nice and tight and punchy. And you don’t get any of the ringing that steel stands can produce - they pass the knuckle knock test.

As an alternative to the Mini Pucks, ISO Acoustics do also make the Aperta stands. They might be better if placing speakers on a cabinet. The pucks isolate very well, but the Aperta stands will isolate, and raise the height of the speakers which may help give the speakers the sense of being in free space with less immediate reflections. This may be more noticeable with upper midrange and treble, whereas the isolation will mainly help with the bass.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I simply don’t know why the picture is almost like widescreen :). Edit, now it’s suddenly normal. Yes, they look cool. Still 150 dollars...
 

Hoku

Active Member
My front three speakers needed 4 pucks each. The mini pucks come in boxes of 8, so I had to purchase two boxes of 8 to cover my needs.

Precisely which pucks you need and how many per speaker will depend on the weight of each speaker.

Visit the ISO Acoustics website. The website will show what weight each product can support. For my weight of speakers I needed 4 mini pucks per speaker.

29BFD415-FE1C-4943-AD79-5D3EF1B4C0A0.png
 
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Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Listen to this.....🤔🤔🤔. It seems the ISO pucks rolls off the treble......
Yes, I know YouTube is not real life, still. Stil its an interesting test.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Listen to this.....🤔🤔🤔. It seems the ISO pucks rolls off the treble......
Yes, I know YouTube is not real life, still. Stil its an interesting test.

Personally I just felt everything became clearer. As the bass tightened up, it removed some of the fog which made the whole frequency range more intelligible as there were just less distractions, especially with timing. So it was just easier. It took less concentration to peer deeply into the music.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
They are too expensive for me at the moment. I’ll use my adhesive damping feet from Amazon😊. They also clean up the bass response.
 

darrenhaken

Active Member
I'm quite sure @Jester1066 suggested this but what do others think about the Bluesound Powernode as an all in one solution Vs amp plus separate streaming?

I was initially against it but as a all in one the price on as a used Node Powernode 2i is quite reasonable - £580.

However, I still worry all in one creates a shorter upgrade path for my equipment. Do share your thoughts.
 

Hoku

Active Member
It does seem a good deal, but an all-in-one just isn’t quite as flexible, so you have to take long-term costs into account. Yes, the Powernode does have some inputs, but not as many as a well-specified amp.

To be fair, Bluesound is a manufacturer that’s so heavily invested in their streaming platform that at least their long term software support should be better than most.

But if it was my money, and this is what I’ve done with both my systems, I’d get an amp with a decent DAC, and add a comparatively low cost streamer with digital output.

I’ve not heard the Bluesound Powernode but I’d be very surprised indeed it it came close to my Quad Vena II, although Jon Darko was impressed with it when he tested it with the KEF LS50 Metas.

Some of it will depend on precisely what you want from a streamer. I don’t have any downloaded music - I only want a streamer to run Tidal reliably and maybe Internet radio. So for me, the Audio Pro Link 1 ticks my boxes.

It’s not perfect, it doesn’t do gapless Tidal from within the Audio Pro app, I need to use Airplay for that, which it does do, but at £90 for the streamer, it leaves a greater chunk of the budget for the quality of amp, which is more important to me.

I do think having an amp with good quality digital inputs significantly widens your choices down the road though.

I have used Google’s Chromecast Audio as a streamer in the past and now the Audio Pro Link 1, and they’re both low cost streamers that sound excellent when I’m not using their own DAC and analogue outputs. (Although the Chromecast implementation of Tidal was appalling, hence the change to the Audio Pro).

However if you had an amp with only analogue inputs, then it perhaps limits you to better quality streamers with superior analogue output implementations. And then if you want to ditch the streamer in future it becomes a more costly prospect.

But all our needs and priorities are different.

Frankly looking at the development of the thread, I think you’ve probably reached the point where you’re near to a shortlist. So I’d recommend that you actually stop reading reviews and stop listening to all our recommendations because we’ll only end up confusing you further with ever more options

You’ve probably reached the point where you need to begin engaging your ears in this decision and visit a dealer and actually listen to stuff. It’s happened to me many times when I’ve read rave reviews on products I think look smart, but when I listen to them I decide within a few minutes that I don’t like the sound.

You can only read so much about sound. You have to experience it to really understand and make a proper judgement. So whatever you do, don’t waste your money and buy blind, unless the dealer has an excellent returns policy.
 

darrenhaken

Active Member
It does seem a good deal, but an all-in-one just isn’t quite as flexible, so you have to take long-term costs into account. Yes, the Powernode does have some inputs, but not as many as a well-specified amp.

To be fair, Bluesound is a manufacturer that’s so heavily invested in their streaming platform that at least their long term software support should be better than most.

But if it was my money, and this is what I’ve done with both my systems, I’d get an amp with a decent DAC, and add a comparatively low cost streamer with digital output.

I’ve not heard the Bluesound Powernode but I’d be very surprised indeed it it came close to my Quad Vena II, although Jon Darko was impressed with it when he tested it with the KEF LS50 Metas.

Some of it will depend on precisely what you want from a streamer. I don’t have any downloaded music - I only want a streamer to run Tidal reliably and maybe Internet radio. So for me, the Audio Pro Link 1 ticks my boxes.

It’s not perfect, it doesn’t do gapless Tidal from within the Audio Pro app, I need to use Airplay for that, which it does do, but at £90 for the streamer, it leaves a greater chunk of the budget for the quality of amp, which is more important to me.

I do think having an amp with good quality digital inputs significantly widens your choices down the road though.

I have used Google’s Chromecast Audio as a streamer in the past and now the Audio Pro Link 1, and they’re both low cost streamers that sound excellent when I’m not using their own DAC and analogue outputs. (Although the Chromecast implementation of Tidal was appalling, hence the change to the Audio Pro).

However if you had an amp with only analogue inputs, then it perhaps limits you to better quality streamers with superior analogue output implementations. And then if you want to ditch the streamer in future it becomes a more costly prospect.

But all our needs and priorities are different.

Frankly looking at the development of the thread, I think you’ve probably reached the point where you’re near to a shortlist. So I’d recommend that you actually stop reading reviews and stop listening to all our recommendations because we’ll only end up confusing you further with ever more options

You’ve probably reached the point where you need to begin engaging your ears in this decision and visit a dealer and actually listen to stuff. It’s happened to me many times when I’ve read rave reviews on products I think look smart, but when I listen to them I decide within a few minutes that I don’t like the sound.

You can only read so much about sound. You have to experience it to really understand and make a proper judgement. So whatever you do, don’t waste your money and buy blind, unless the dealer has an excellent returns policy.
A very thorough answer, thanks for taking the time to write it.

After posing the question I've decided to keep away from the Powernode. There's a design flaw in it that when watching TV there's a 50ms lag resulting in lip sync issues.

My shortlist is:
Cambridge Audio CXA60 - used and cheaper route. Sadly unable to test it directly except a newer model.

Cambridge Audio CXA61

Audiolab 6000a (same as I own within the HT)

Rega Brio, streamer plus a cheap DAC to convert the TV.

I am auditioning the Riga Brio and Audiolab on Monday - sadly not with the same speakers. They don't have them.

I could arrange an audition with the Cambridge Audio but only via RS who don't stock the Brio.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I simply don’t agree. Bluesound Powenode 2i has build in subwoofer bass management filter. Plus HDIM. Connect the HDIM to the tv, then he gets sound trough the TV.

If he doesn’t like the dac, lip sync problems then just buy the Topping E30.

Remember the Powernode Node2i acts like music server. You can rip your own CD. USB outputs. Connect an external HDD, SDD.

But this confuses OP even more. It yours wallet, ears.
 

darrenhaken

Active Member
I simply don’t agree. Bluesound Powenode 2i has build in subwoofer bass management filter. Plus HDIM. Connect the HDIM to the tv, then he gets sound trough the TV.

If he doesn’t like the dac, lip sync problems then just buy the Topping E30.

Remember the Powernode Node2i acts like music server. You can rip your own CD. USB outputs. Connect an external HDD, SDD.

But this confuses OP even more. It yours wallet, ears.
You disagree with what?

I was seriously sold on the Powernode until I found out about the lip sync issue. How would a Topping DAC + Powernode solve that?
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Plus the Powernode is Class D amplifier. More power to the speakers.

Lip sync problems: One send support ticket to the Bluesound team, then depending on the issue they can fix it.

Two: By using the E30 DAC you are not using the Powernode 2i onboard DAC but the Topping.
 

darrenhaken

Active Member
Never heard the HDIM has lip sync problems.

This is the thread. See what the Bluesound product manager says about grouping. They cannot reduce latency less than 50ms which caused a lot of complaints.

Even another DAC would cause the same issue. I did contemplate testing the Powernode and returning if I saw the issue
 

Hoku

Active Member
Well it’s good that you’re listening to stuff. I’m sure that the fog will begin to clear a bit after your demos. Listening to as much as possible is a good thing

Try to ask the dealer for their recommendations too. I’ve ended up with speakers in the past that far exceeded the ones I’d shortlisted - and I’d never even heard of those speakers before the demo, so it can be a useful exercise asking for their input. Just let them know what you need the system to do and what kind of sound you’re aiming for.

Horses for courses. The Powernode wouldn’t be my cuppa, but it does suit some people. For me, another consideration was running two systems plus a kitchen speaker. Doing this with Bluesound was far more expensive than Audio Pro. So again, more of my budget could go on the amp itself.
 

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