Advice on my first hi-fi seperates system

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by samarmitage, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. samarmitage

    samarmitage
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    I have owned a basic technics set up for a long time and have decided to treat myself to a new stereo, i have already purchased a rega rp1 turntable and some wharfdale bookshelf speakers, so i am looking for advice on an integrated amp and cd player.

    I am looking to spend around £300 but could stretch to about £400 if pushed...

    I have searched on here quite extensively and the feeling i get is that a second hand amp seems to be the best value, and have been looking into older NAD units, like the 3020 and the 3130, the audiolab 8000a or even a rega brio if i can track one down. The features i would like to have with the amp are a decent phono stage for connecting to the RP1, the potential of switching between 2 sets of speakers and a tone defeat option (if there are tone controls). I was looking to spend around £150-£200 on the amp

    I would like to pair this with a brand new/ex demo CD player. The models i have been looking at are a couple of the NAD units (315bee or if i can afford it the 545bee) or possibly a cambridge azur 550c. all these players can be had for around the £200 or less mark.

    Would it be better to have the same brand amp/cd combo or is it better to mix and match?

    I am leaning more towards the NAD amps and CD players but would like a bit of advice on what would suit me best. I mainly listen to guitar based music, ranging from country to math/tech rock (think hank williams/old crow medicine show through to minus the bear) and i am looking to get a sound on the warm side of neutral.

    look forward to hearing your advice!
     
  2. peritus

    peritus
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    What would be handy to know is what music you generally listen to and also what kind of room the system will be going in to and how it's furnished (i.e. hardfloors, carpeted, soft furnishings, conservatory etc...)?

    For me 2nd hand items always offer more bang for buck but obviously you need to be sure in what you're buying!

    The NAD C320BEE integrated amp is still a stonking amp and can usually be found on eBay with ease. The likes of an Arcam Alpha 8 or Musical Fidelity XA1/XA100 integrated amp will always work very well also.

    For speakers, for me I'd be looking at the likes of the B&W 602 S2's/S3's, Monitor Audio BR2's & Acoustic Energy Neo 1 V2's for standmount speakers. If you wanted floorstanding speakers then the Acoustic Energy AE109's, B&W 603 S2's, Acoustic Energy Neo 3 V2's and Mission M34's would be a good place to start

    If you need a phono connection then an external phono amp may be easier to sort; the likes of a NAD PP2 is a good place to start and not expensive at all.

    As for CD players again NAD and Arcam items will always work well...
     
  3. steveledzep

    steveledzep
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    If it were me, having owned a couple in the past, I'd go for a used Audiolab 8000A. £150 should easily buy you a later model (black) one. They have everything you want, MM/MC phono, tone defeat, two pairs speakers etc. Not sure I'd describe the sound as warm, more clinical and analytical. Go have a listen, see what you think. One thing to watch for, the phono sockets on the rear have a tendency to become loose sometimes.

    Can't advise on cd player sorry, another job for your ears. If you're thinking of buying new/ex-demo you should have no difficulty in being able to audition.

    Good luck, enjoy your vinyl !!
     
  4. samarmitage

    samarmitage
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    Thanks for the replies, very prompt!

    my listening room is average size, carpet on the floor with a few sparse soft furnishings. music is a massive range, but mostly guitar based stuff, listening to a lot of country and american folk music at the moment, lots of banjos etc!

    i will chalk up one vote for the nad and one for the audiolab, though i don't like the sound of mechanical problems on the 8000, do any of the nads have known faults? be handy to know if i am looking for a second hand unit what is most likely to go wrong!

    thanks again for your replies
     
  5. peritus

    peritus
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    With your taste in music, IMO you'd be best to go with the likes of Arcam, NAD, Musical Fidelity and Rotel for amps.

    Audiolab make some superb amps and CDP's but their soundstage, again IMO, wont suit your taste in music. It can be quite forward and dry/clinical at times

    The NAD C320BEE is a superb amp and was a multiple award winner when it first came out. It's not made any longer but you can still pick them up 2nd hand on eBay. The NAD C315/316BEE and possibly the C326BEE amps could be worth well looking at as well. The Arcam Alpha 8 and 9 amps are again very good but the 9 will be a bit higher price wise, somewhere between £200 and £300 dependent upon how many people are after one!

    The recent NAD faults lay with their C545BEE CDP; a few people had returned them due to varying issues but a lot more owned them and never had issues, like myself as I had one for 16months and it was faultless (just got a good deal to upgrade to a Rega Apollo)

    As for CDP's the Arcam DiVA CD72 is always worth looking at; superb player and will withstand a good few upgrades
     
  6. steveledzep

    steveledzep
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    I mention the phono socket situation with the Audiolab as something to look for if buying one. It didn't affect either of mine, just something to look out for as it can be a weakness on a minority. I can't believe I'm hearing Arcam and NAD being mentioned together. My experience of Arcam is one of laid back and unexciting, but NAD I regard as upfront and in your face ! I consider the Audiolab is between the two. My sig. demonstrates my affinity with Musical Fidelity. Great gear, don't know whether your budget will manage MF though.

    Let us know what you settle on please.
     
  7. peritus

    peritus
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    The Arcam Alpha 8, 9 and 10 amps were some of the best Arcam ever made IMO

    Superb sound but smooth and detailed. The DiVA range bar the A85 were all crap and lacked so much it was unbelievable and then the FMJ range was fairly poor bar the A32 and the current A38

    The NAD amps are very good indeed; certainly not in your face at all but the NAD C326BEE has been renowned to be fairly bass heavy but partner it with the right CDP and speakers (i.e. Arcam CD72 etc and M/A, Acoustic Energy, B&W or Dali speakers) and it works very well indeed...

    For around £150 the NAD C320BEE integrated or Arcam Alpha 8R integrated amps are superb value and would be very hard to beat IMO

    I love MF amps and CDP's but I dont think the OP's budget will get anything from the MF range
     
  8. samarmitage

    samarmitage
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    Thanks for the information guys...i am starting to get a good idea of what i will go for.

    I like the look of the arcam stuff, hadn't heard of the brand before but having done a little research they sound like a good bet! The alpha amps seem like a good buy and there are a few knocking about on everyones favourite auction site...

    i might hold out to see if there are any in the classifieds on this site too as i am sure any members of the forums will probably look after their kit a little better than the average punter!

    i think my plan of action is to decide upon and purchase an amp and then take it to a few hifi places to demo a cd player and see which ones work out best for me.

    thanks again for the advice guys!
     
  9. peritus

    peritus
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    Sounds like a good plan

    The Arcam Alpha 9 and 10 amps were the best in the Alpha range but the 8 was still a good amp. Unfortunately the Alpha 7 was a bit too smooth and dull at times but it wasnt that powerful!

    The NAD C320BEE, C352 (PD version) and C355BEE amps would be a great buy as well; there arent many on eBay etc currently but they do crop up regularly :)

    A 2nd hand Marantz PM6003 would be a great buy too but not many are cropping up currently; it does change week in/week out however so keep your eyes peeled :smashin:
     
  10. samarmitage

    samarmitage
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    UPDATE-managed to get a good deal on a brand new (ex demo) rega brio mk 3 which should arrive any day now.

    the only question is now, what cd player to get?! i can't afford to go for the rega apollo (even though it would look good to have an all rega set up) i have around £250-£300 tops in the budget for the cd player and interconnect, so thinking of around £200 on the cdp and the rest on the cables. Anyone have the rega and can recommend a good cd player in my budget?
     
  11. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Nothing wrong with any of the suggestions so far, I will just add a bit more to the mix in NEW equipment -

    Denon PMA510

    Denon DCD510

    Yamaha AS300

    Yamaha CDS300

    Though pushing your budget to the extreme, do give some thought to these -

    Yamaha CDS700

    Yamaha AS500

    Yamaha AS700

    AHH! Just noticed you bought an amp (Rega Brio 3), don't think you will have any complaints there. Still, if you've got the budget, the Yamaha CDS700 typically sells for closer to £450, making it something of a bargain, though the £299 price tag is not cheap.

    An alternative, more in your budget range would be the Cambridge Audio 650C from Richer Sounds at £250.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  12. samarmitage

    samarmitage
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    Thanks for the reply, will be looking into demo-ing a few when i get the amp burnt in so just trying to get a shortlist of cd players to try...

    so far i am looking at the NAD 515bee, the denon 510 and the cambridge 350c or 550c (depending on what price i can get them for). Hadn't thought about the yamaha, but will see if i can arrange a demo for that too, thanks for the suggestion.

    looking forward to getting the amp and trying some out...
     

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