Advice on spending £2.5k on used equipment for my "new" HiFi

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by zaktech, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. zaktech

    zaktech
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    Hi All,


    I'm new to forums and joined this one today. I'm not new to music and audiophile equipment, but I've been away from it all for the past 12 years and coming back since I once again have room for a good stereo system (that will be used for TV audio as well). I require advice on equipment etc. I'm unsure of where to start - I'm inclined to start with speakers.


    I last had top of the line Onkyo Integra series integrated stereo amplifier and CD player (imported) and B&W (they were large bookshelf speakers that I placed on concrete filled stands). I also had a pair of Polk Audio RT10i floor standing speakers that went down to 30Hz (again, imported). I listen to a very wide range of music. I really enjoyed the sound stage and clarity (especially midrange) from the B&Ws, but they lacked the bass I wanted for listening to rock and some jazz. The result was that I compromised on some of the mid / high frequency openness and clarity by settling on using the RT10i speakers permanently.


    I have a 5m x 5m room with 3m high ceilings (good old Victorian home) with very recently installed acoustic glazing, to save the neighbors from being forced to listen to my music. I'm looking for floor standing speakers which go down low (30Hz 'ish) with good, clear open sounding mids and good highs. I'm looking for a combination of the characteristics of the B&Ws and the Polks in one speaker. I have not been able to listen to them, but I think the B&W DM605 S2 speakers may be the ones for me. I need to find a good pair at a fair price or be advised on similar sounding speakers. Passive isobarics interest me a great deal, but again, I need advice. I also have the option of Tekton OrielTen or the Tekton Lore speakers for about £1000 new. This interests me because of the reviews these speakers are getting and the 98db [email protected] sensativity, but I've not heard full range speakers before.


    I need to purchase amp, interconnects, cables and a CD player as well. I have a budget of up to £2500. I prefer a warm sound to a clinical sound, so hybrid integrated amps like the Fusion HB70 interest me, but my concern is valve lifespan and resulting maintenance cost. I want to hook this system up to my TV for regular use, so a solid state amp with pre outs may be a better option for me along with maybe a valve preamplifier that could be used only when listening to music - I'm not sure if that's a viable option? (solid state integrated for TV and valve pre with power amp of the integrated for music - there are a few possible combinations, like one power amp and two different pre's)


    It had been suggested that a Linn Klout may be too bright for my liking, but I'm not sure. I'm told Naim and Music Fedility may also be too bright for my liking. I'm not opposed to using a fully integrated solid state amplifier either and maybe a Fusion CD64 to achieve the warmer sound for my music listening.


    One thing I am decided on is that I prefer to buy used equipment to get the biggest bang for my buck. I want value for money, reliability and buying used should allow me to obtain the higher end equipment, at least beyond what my £2.5k would buy me new. I'm not sure I want to "waste" and dealers time in a demo room, although I'm likely to spend money with them over time on used and maybe even some new equipment.


    Community, can you help and guide me please?


    Thanks,
    Zak
     
  2. zaktech

    zaktech
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    Stereo HiFi, not an AV system
     
  3. Wilseus

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    Linn Klouts are, I believe, very good. Do be aware though that you won't get much change from £1000 for a decent one second hand.
     
  4. Mark.Yudkin

    Mark.Yudkin
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    £2.5K is not all that much, even second-hand, so you should set your sights a little more realistically. For example a solid state integrated amplifier, a CD player and a decent pair of full-range loudspeakers. For this budget, you'd be better off forgetting valves (unless you want to gamble on a Chinese built budget model) or separate pre and power amplification. For example, with a Klout power amp going for ca. £1K, you'll have little left for the rest of the kit.

    Don't forget that speakers costing you say 50% - 65% your total budget will nevetherless easily account for over 95% of the total sound quality (and 50%-65% is also my recommendation for their proportion). As an example, once you've left the low-end of SS amps, warm and bright are amost entirely a property of the speakers, these swamping the much smaller tonal differences in modern SS electronics. Of course, there are others here who will have different recommendations and others who will disagree with me quite violently.

    The hard bit of course is suggesting what to get, since what you end up with will depend on what is available, and that is unknown. Take a look at the Classifieds here of course.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  5. zaktech

    zaktech
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    Thanks Mark. I will spend about £1k on speakers and change the other kit over time to improve the system.

    I'm wondering if anyone heard these Tekton Design OrielTen or Lore speakers? tekton-designcontent2011
     
  6. Just Old

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    Monitor audio RX8
    Marantz amp(intigrated)
    Philips CD 104

    will satisfy all your needs, plus you have a dollop left for a few cases of champagne as well!!!!
     
  7. PhilCTTE

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    Sorry no spare cash here for champagne

    ATC SCM40's - pair just sold, asking price was £1400

    Quad 909 - £500 - £600

    Can't recommend CDP , thought about streaming ?
    MDAC £599 - DAC / Pre-amp.

    *** edit which country are you based as I've just found the ATC's and the Quad at a uk dealer £1495 and £495 . No worries Dazzor saves me banging on about how good the MDAC is :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  8. Dazzor

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    Putting speakers to one side, as they're the most subjective part of the chain...

    Power amp: Meridian 559(rare but out there sometimes)...and an Audiolab M-DAC.

    Sure that lot used will most likely run to about £1800 or thereabouts, but, you'd have some monster power and a very nice front-end (pre & DAC) you could connect any disc spinner to for CD and also be all set for other digital connectivity like streaming sources ect.

    Just what I would seriously consider at this time if I was ready to start putting a stereo system together again.

    All the best

    Darren

    EDIT

    Apologies to Phil, your post wasn't visible when I started this post.. (repetition of the MDAC suggestion )

    Also, apologies to the OP, my potentially overzealous power amp suggestion does mean you'll likely go over budget a bit as you're only left with about £700 for speakers...an amp like the 559 will be a real keeper though I reckon.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  9. BlueWizard

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    Just so we are clear, the desired equipment list is -

    - Speakers
    - Amp
    - CD Player

    New or used, I would break this down as -

    1x = CD Player
    1x = Amp
    2x = Speakers
    ----------------
    4x = Total Budget

    As far as used, you can certainly go that route, but you are somewhat at the mercy of what is available, and equally at the mercy of the assumed honesty of the seller. Though I will say, most used transaction go well, there is an element of risk.

    Next your desire for somewhat obscure equipment only makes the problem of buying new or used more difficult.

    Next, are you absolutely locked at £2.5k? If this is also going to be the sound system for Video, can we assume a certain part of that will be Movie watching, and if you are watching movies will you not also need a DVD/BluRay player? Have you accounted for that in your budget?

    Any chance of a need for SACD? (super audio compact disk)

    The reason I ask, is because there are a few very nice Universal Players out there that rise to true Audiophile levels. They play BluRay, DVD, DVD-A, SACD, and CD. They tend to be expensive, running close to £1000. But when you consider the cost of a good CD/SACD Player PLUS a good BluRay player, the price isn't that different.

    Is there or might there be a turntable in the mix, now or in the future?

    Also, while you will certainly get more for you money, including more risk and more potential headaches, with used, you can get a pretty fair system new for £2500. That would break down to roughly -

    £_625 = CD Player,
    £_625 = Amp
    £1250 = Speaker Pair

    Many would love to have that budget to spend on a new stereo.

    Just to illustrate the possibilities, consider this -

    £_499/ea = Marantz PM7004, 70w/ch, Integrated Amp
    £_500/ea = Marantz UD7006 Universal BluRay Player (£999 for UD7007)
    £1099/pr = Dali Ikon 6 speaker pair
    ---------------------
    £2098 = Total

    Marantz PM7004 - Google Search

    Marantz UD7007 - Google Search

    Marantz UD7006 - Google Search

    Dali IKON 6 - Google Search

    Alternate speakers, DALI IKON 7 (£1599/pr) -

    Dali IKON 7 - Google Search

    Alternate Universal Players -

    Oppo BDP-95EU (£899) -
    OPPO 95 - Google Search

    Cambridge Audio 751BD (£799) -

    Cambridge Audio AZUR 751BD Black | 3D Blu-ray Player | Richer Sounds

    If your needs are limited to CD only, then the price comes down substantially.

    Alternate amp -

    Marantz PM-KI Pearl Lite, 70w/ch, (£679)

    Rotel RA-1520, 60w/ch, (£694)

    Rotel RA12, 60w/ch, (£599) with built-in DAC, Optical/Coaxial digital input

    Rotel RA-06SE, 70w/ch, (£599) (replaced by the RA12; normally at £695)

    XTZ A100 D3, 110w/ch, high current power supply, DAC, Digital In, (~£650)

    NAD C356BEE, 80w/ch, (£595)

    Creek Evolution EVO-2, 80w/ch, (£675) (HiFi Choice rate - Best Amp Under £1000)

    Just to name a few.


    Alternate speakers -

    Dale Zensor 7 (2x 7" bass, 40hz @ -3db, ~32hz @ -6db) (£649/pr)

    KEF Q500 (£699/pr)

    KEF Q700 (£999/pr)

    Kef Q900 (£1199/pr)

    Acoustic Energy Radiance 2 (£785/pr)

    Acoustic Energy Radiance 3 (£1095/pr)

    Dali Lektor 8 (2x 8" bass, 39hz @ -3db, ~31hz @ -6db) (£1149/pr) (good Jazz speaker, in my opinion)

    Focal 726V (2x 6.5" low-bas, 1x 6.5" mid-bas) (£854/pr)

    Focal 826VW Ltd Edition (2x 6.5" low-bass, 1x 6.5" mid-bass) (£1299/pr) (audioaffair.co.uk)

    Focal 836VW Ltd Edition (3x 6.5" low-bass, 1x 6.5" mid-bass) (£1599/pr) (audioaffair.co.uk)

    Focal speakers don't go especially deep (45hz @ -3dB = 826, 40hz @ -3dB = 836), but they have stunning clarity, and these Limited Edition 'VW" models should noticeably out perform the standard "V" models. Well worth an audition, effortless, crystal clear, and very present speakers. These may not render bass with a deep drone, but they do render it with crystal clarity.

    The above is only a small cross section of very desirable NEW Equipment in your price range.

    Just a few thoughts, though admittedly not what you asked for.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  10. Electro58

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    Hi zaktech,

    If I was choosing a system that does all that you want and more for £2500 it would be this .
    A Primare Cd21 cd player second hand for around £500 .
    An XTZ class A100 D3 integrated amp brand new for £660 .
    A pair of second hand PMC FBI+ speakers for £700 to £900 .
    This would leave you plenty to buy cables and any accessories you needed .

    As an alternative you might be able to find a second hand pair of PMC OB1's for £1000 to £1400 which are quite a large step up from the FBI+ model but this would leave you less money for cables and accessories.
    This combination would give you a really top class system IMO and give you the best sound quality and a system that will play any type of music effortlessly with real power and authority .
    Hope this helps and gives you something to think about :) .
     
  11. push

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    Whilst Steve appears to have covered all the bases in lots of detail (as usual, sir!), I'd like to propose a slightly different option for you zaktech, which may require a bit of new thinking!

    I am going to assume a couple of specifics...
    1. You only need to feed this system with 2 sources - CD output and TV output.
    2. You are only interested in stereo and not surround sound.
    3. You prefer used, but you are happy to buy new if the price is right.

    So, based upon that - here is my option for recommendation:

    Speakers -
    1 x pair of Avi ADM 9.1T (new RS version), Left & Right. They are active so include amplification (1 amp per driver in each speaker, specifically matched to each driver), pre-amplification, active crossover and a DAC. £1250
    1 x Avi 10inch Subwoofer. Connects directly to the left speaker of the above. £800.

    (A remote and cables are included, which does include an optical cable to connect up one source out of the box)

    I have some of these myself, and I wouldn't describe the sound as clinical or warm - it's just honest, neutral and detailed - like using a very good pair of headphones. I'm really impressed with mine.

    Read up @ http://www.avihifi.co.uk/adm9.html

    Amp -
    Covered in above!!

    CD Player -
    Ultimately, you'll let the AVIs do the D-A conversion here, so you just need a good transport - something like the Music Fidelity M1 CDT would work - found it for £500 on a site. I suspect you may get more use out of universal player as per Steve's suggestion though.

    So, speakers, sub and transport/universal player for £2550 - all new. The one thing to add maybe would be some stands.

    Whilst it'll sound great and is easy/simple; there are two possible disadvantages with this option:
    1. You need to find room for the subwoofer, and not everyone wants that - i.e. wide range floorstanders might be better overall.
    2. You need more inputs in future - the ADMs only have 2 digital and 1 analog input.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  12. BlueWizard

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    The critical factor when looking at Active Speaker (built-in amps) for AV applications is that they come with a REMOTE CONTROL. The AVI DO come with a remote control which is a necessity in the modern world.

    Active speaker have limited versatility, but with two digital and one analog input, that may be all you need.

    Also, don't confuse depth of bass, that is low frequency response numbers, with perceived bass, Many speakers with basic response numbers have very good perceived bass. Don't judge on number alone.

    My Diamond 9.6 with twin 8" bass drivers (28hz @ -6db) are fairly neutral, and they certainly don't have exaggerated bass. However, the Acoustic Energy Neo 3, which does not have especially impressive bass numbers, is noted for having very good perceived bass. Though in the Neo 3 it is not exaggerated excessively, these are very good speakers for the money.

    The same with the Dali Zensor, good, decent, but not stunning, bass numbers. However all the reviews I've encountered remark on the quality of the bass.

    Back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the earth and every punk kid and his father had speakers with 12" bass drivers, 30hz was not that uncommon. But in today's world of 5", 6.5", and the occasional 7", and the more rare 8" bass drivers, those deep bass numbers are hard to come by.

    Also note that it is not always clear what the qualification on bass response is. For example, virtually all the Wharfedale speaker are rated at a still very functional sound level of -6db. Dali speakers on the other hand are all rated at -3dB. Monitor Audio are rated at -3dB, but in the detailed specs, you can find the -6db numbers.

    Typically the -6dB is about 5hz to 8hz lower than the -3dB numbers. But there are exceptions like the B&W "CM" series floorstanding speakers. These have pretty bad -3dB numbers, but by the time the sound level drops to -6dB, they are down there with other similar speakers.

    For example, the B&W CM9 and the B&W 684 both have twin 6.5" bass drivers. Here are the bass responses of both -

    CM9 = 56hz @ -3dB, and 30hz @ -6dB (a difference of 26hz)

    683 = 38hz @ -3dB, and 30hz @ -6dB (a difference of 8hz)

    But for a majority of speakers, a 5hz to 8hz difference between the -3dB, which is essentially flat, and the -6dB roll off points. Minus 6dB is a slight but noticeable attenuation. For dynamic music, a variation of -3dB isn't really noticeable at all. At -6dB the speakers is still considered within its working range.

    So, be wise in your quest for super low numbers in the bass response. Those numbers alone do not indicate how you will perceive the speaker when you hear it in person. Plus, don't focus on bass alone, in a quality speakers, it is absolute clarity that makes the speaker what it is. Clarity can't be measured, it must be experienced.

    As a further illustration, the Dali Ikon 6 has been on every Editor's Choice list I've encountered in the last few years. The rate bass response is 39hz @ -3dB, one can assume a -6dB of 31hz, that's pretty good. Further, the Dali Ikon are a very clear and present speaker, which is why the continue to make Editor's Choice lists.

    Just a few more thoughts.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  13. Mark.Yudkin

    Mark.Yudkin
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    The point I'm trying to make is that if you spend the other £1.5K on pre-owned amplification and a CD player, you will achieve little improvement upgrading that amplification and CD player with even very expensive replacements, whereas spending rather more than £1K on the speakers can make a massive difference.

    Although Tekton do ship world-wide, as an American direct-sales brand, they are probably not well known in Europe (I had never heard of them), where they are competing with local direct-sales brands. For example, Teufel (a popular direct sales brand in Germany, trying to gain a foothold in UK) have lower shipping cost and free returns, whereas
    Tekton's "Money back" still costs return carriage and 15% restocking, making them non-competitive. In any case, you're better off asking about Tekton on a US forum.

    Since you intend buying used, you are better off sticking with brands having a large market share in your country. This makes them easier to find and easier to service, as well as being part of a regular used-sales market.
     
  14. GloopyJon

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    I bought a CD player two or three years ago (Cambridge Audio 840C, for £700) but I wouldn't now. I'd definitely go for a streaming solution - having moved to a house recently, my music setup has been decoupled from the main TV and so I have a stereo in one room (with a TV but not the main TV room), and the main TV is now supported by a surround sound system. There I have installed a Logitech Squeezebox Touch to stream music that is stored on my NAS box, and that works very well. I'm not over-critical of sound quality (and anyway this is going into a surround system, not stereo) but I think the quality is not bad at all, and there are similar but better quality solutions available in increasing numbers from many of the big names in audio.

    So for what it's worth, if you have anythink that's capable of streaming ripped music (and there are many options), then I'd go for that. In comparison with your budget, the Logitech box is very cheap - it would probably do very well as a first option, and it would free up about £500 from your budget that could probably be used to good effect in order to bump up your choice of speakers. If you're unappy with the quality from the Squeezebox, you can always stick it in another room later and buy a better alternative, but in any case streaming is the way to go, for my money.
     
  15. iBurni

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    If you liked your previous B&W's it might be worth looking at the B&W CDM7SE's. I run mine through AC Magnum Pre amp and two monoblocks and I'm very impressed. I managed to get the speakers from an Audiophile on EBay for £480, a great buy as were £1200 new over 10 years ago !!

    Good luck.
     
  16. zaktech

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    Hi All,

    Happy new year. I have an update on how Ive spent my time any money over the past few months..

    I started with a Linn LK280 power amp and AudioLab8200CDQ for CDP and as my pre.
    I found the B&W speaker that gives me the bass I wanted, DM605S2 with active bass, so it has a mono block bolted to the back of each speaker for the LF drivers. Clearly this is a HT speaker, not a reference speaker but it sounds awesome.

    I found a pair of KEF Reference 105/3s in walnut veneer which required bass driver refoaming - a task I completed over a weekend. I then hunted down a Kube 200 equaliser because the bass wasn't exactly where I wanted it - this was a mission and a half. With help, I was able to build a PSU for the Kube I found in the US. I got my hands on a valve CDP to compare with the Audiolab - PureSound a8000 which sounds good to me although I cannot fault the Audiolab 8200CDQ. I also stumbled across a Krell 400xi integrated amp, so I let the CDQ go.

    My system now looks like this..
    A pair of KEF Reference 105/3 speakers with the Kube200 equaliser.
    Explore KEF - Reference Series Model 105/3 - KEF International
    Later, when I can find a pair, I may switch to KEF Reference Model 4.2s with boundary compensation device.

    PureSound a8000 CDP - not sure if changing valves can make a big difference here.. can anyone advise me please.

    The KEF Kube 200 equaliser can be wired through the tape loop or between the pre and power amp in a bi-amplification scenario to isolate the equaliser effects to the LF. The bi-amp config allows for an unaltered mid and HF which is ideal since the equaliser seems to affect the imaging and soundstage when configured through the tape loop on a single amplifier. I therefore run a Krell 400xi as the pre and mid/HF amp, and a Linn LK280 for the LF via the Kube200. The Kube has a fixed output, or variable gain adjustable output. Using the variable output allows me to compensate for the gain differences between the LK and 400xi. Ideally I'd like to run it all off the same make and model of amplifier. I find the LK280 sweeter but has less LF driver control than the 400xi, so I have been looking for another 400xi to place into Theater Throughput Mode (TTM converts integrated to a power amp) to function as the LF power amp, via the Kube instead of the LK280. I'm considering two LK280 Spark power amps, but I'm told they don't sound a great deal different to the standard LK280.

    Off topic, but related, has anyone any experience with McIntosh MA-6600?
    I wonder how this amp compares to a Krell 400xi or KSA 80/100/200/250.

    Cheers, Zak.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  17. Doomlord_uk

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    Congrats on finding a pair of 605S2s :)

    Do you still have them?
     
  18. zaktech

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    I do still have the DM605S2s, and I cannot part with them so I hooked them up with my old Sony HT amp for the TV in the lounge and moved my HiFi to the bedroom :)

    Fortunately its a Victorian home and the lounge is below my bedroom so I have both rooms 5m x 5m with 3m high ceilings. These B&Ws have a gain adjuster at the back on the amp (-6 to +6db) and another adjuster for altering the bass rolloff in a few increments from 25Hz to 35Hz.

    The KEF 105/3 goes down to 49Hz and down to 20Hz with the Kube200 in place... simply the best speaker I have heard. I'm sure there are better sounding speakers but I'm sure they'll cost me a whole lot more. I hope to settle and start enjoying the system once I have the second amplifier sorted.

    I'm interested to hear from someone on the McIntosh MA6600.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  19. Ellen V

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    Are there any Tekton owners out there who live in New York City? I would love to come by and hear a Tekton system before I buy. I'm especially interested in the Tekton Enzo's.
    Thanks!
     

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