Amp upgrade budget £750

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by ChiefBrody, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Hey guys

    I'm upgrading my amp as i believe it is the weak link in my system, as i find the sound too "laid back". I do love the clarity of my setup but am after a bit more oomph. Adding a power amp is not an option as i cannot bi-wire my speakers, and don't want to change them. I am considering auditioning the following units and would just like your thoughts bearing in mind my situation. My music taste is very broad so i would like a good overall sound. My budget is approx £750.

    Considerations:

    Cyrus 8vs2
    Naim Nait 5i
    Roksan Kandy L3
    Primare I21

    I would rather buy brand new even though i know there are some fantastic 2nd hand bargains out there. I have chosen the above units as i have read good reports about them and they are all stocked by my local Sevenokas, whom i have delat with for some years.

    Thanks

    Tom
     
  2. leeme3

    leeme3
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    I've just switched from Arcam to Cyrus (albeit with a lower budget). Both brands do have a distinctive 'brand' sound and I also found Arcam 'laid back' - great for most of my music but sounded like it was struggling to keep up on pacier tracks. Very pleased with the Cyrus sound - does laid back like Arcam but capable of picking it up nicely when necessary. Plus, with Cyrus, there's always upgrade/PSX-R options so you can further re-infroce the sound in the future when you want. Hope that helps!
     
  3. cwilson

    cwilson
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    If you enjoy what the Rega R3's do, (I had a pair for a good while) then I would suggest that you find a decent dealer or two and compare the Naim 5i, The Rega Mira, and for a change to the sound, a Sugden A21a. The suggy will be well overbudget, but ex dem one's do crop up. They all have the ability to really draw you into the music, just in different ways.
     
  4. Scott_Mac

    Scott_Mac
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    A lot of places are selling the Nait 5i off for £575, a price at which it's a bargain, the replacement Nait 5i[/] is supposed to be an improvement but i've not yet heard one... you'd certainly be extremely happy with the cheaper priced model though!

    For me, it's the pick of the listed units, though the Primare is excellent in a different sounding way....
     
  5. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Thanks for all the replies guys. Seems like the Nait 5i is a very popular choice then. I have heard a lot of praise about these. I think i'm tesitng the Cyrus 8vs2 tomorrow so that should be interesting. Heard mixed reports about them.


    Thanks

    Tom
     
  6. Scott_Mac

    Scott_Mac
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    You mean you'll find a lot of hugely biased, holier than though attitude and an occasional piece of useful information on the Naim forum....

    It can be great, but it can be a nightmare too, don't dare consider suggesting alternative cables, mains leads, non Naim systems etc or prepare to get shot down!!!!
     
  7. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    I like the Kandy - it really loves rocking along to whatever music you throw at it.
    Primare is a bit more laid-back (but nothing like as horizontal as Arcam) & would like one too.
    Naim is a marmite sound. Demo essential.
    I've never heard a Cyrus setup I would spend money on. Just too dry for me. :thumbsdow
     
  8. Scott_Mac

    Scott_Mac
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    For one liner reviews they're pretty good and i pretty much agree though the Roksan never quite bit me as i wanted....
     
  9. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Well i have managed to speak to a local dealer who is letting me have a home demo of the Cyrus 8vs2 and Naim 5i from Saturday to Tuesday so i should get plenty of time to hear them both with my kit and cables etc. They have already offered me a 10% discount which is not too bad.
     
  10. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    I have now been offered an FMJ A32 for £800 so i might test this as well. Not sure if this will have the same Arcam sound though.
     
  11. Resonance

    Resonance
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    You don't have to bi-wire with a power amp, assuming you can either disconnect the existing power amp section of your current amp, or it is OK to leave it without speakers connected. Unless it's valve, then most are fine open circuit.

    What is your current amp?
     
  12. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Arcam A80.
     
  13. OneDesi

    OneDesi
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    I would really value your opinion on the FMJ A32 as I think it is now discontinued hence the reduced price (so tempting).

    Another one to your list could be the Musical Fidelity A3.5 which is c.£500 from Lintone and the likes. I traded in all my MF gear to Arcam as I used to think Arcam was boring whereas MF is right of centre and Cyrus an extreme right (only IMO and I didn't like the Cyrus 8vs I had). I did try the Nait 5i and I liked it (more than the CD player at the time).

    I doubt you will find one ex-dem but a Densen B110 could be a very good stepping stoone between Arcam and Naim.

    Oh, nearly forgot - what about the Cambridge Audio 740A or 840A (budgt allowing).

    One last thought - have you tried tweaking your I/C and speaker cable its just i think if you swapped the VDH speaker cable to QED XT300 you would liven things up and maybe the Chameleon interconnect for a TCI.

    I guess you like the speakers but I think the voicing of speakers is probably the most important thing and I have PMC DB1's with my Arcam AVR350 and it is a nice sound hence the Regas might not be the best match but there's a stunning set of pMC GB1''s in the classifieds ;)
     
  14. mlilliman

    mlilliman
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    I found the Arcam A80 to be quite clearly the weakest link in my setup (see sig). With anything other than acoustic material and vocals the perceived sound was slow and somewhat congested (which is a shame as the older A85 was the first hifi product I ever aspired to owning :)). I'd add weight to OneDesi's recommendation regarding the Densen B-110, it's made a world of difference to my listening experience. There's times where everything sounds right and it brings a smile to your face :smashin:.

    However, my Arcam was driving a pair of B&W CM1s which are quite laidback, so perhaps a more forward speaker such as the Monitor Audio silver range or PMC may be better suited to the A80.

    Use this opportunity to home demo a few products and then hopefully, you'll find the one that keeps you happy for a good few years (...before the next upgrade!).
     
  15. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Does anybody know where these MF A5's are going for £500, other than Lintone? They are selling them for £999.
     
  16. OneDesi

    OneDesi
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    I said A3.5 not A5.
     
  17. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    My mistake. Sorry.
     
  18. MIB

    MIB
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    I demoed an MF A5 / Primare I21 & I31 and preferred the A5 which seemed to have effortless control of the speakers. I think they can be had second hand for about £700 and new for £900 - £1000
     
  19. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Well i have had the chance to audition the Cyrus 8vs for a good few hours now. At first, after leaving it running for about 30 mins, i was quite surprised as it sounded awful and "tinny" with no substance at all. However, after about an hour all this changed and the Cyrus turned into a mighty fine amp. Very fast, punchy and dynamic with a good amount of detail. It made a much more exciting sound, and one that i have been after for a while.I played a good mix of music, from Bob Dylan, Arctic Monkeys, The Zutons, Foo Fighters, Jools Holland. My girflfriend actually commented on how bright it soundedand I must agree with her that compared to the Arcam, it was bright but not as bad as i had thought. Overall i was very impressed. However, tomorrow i get my hands on the new Naim Nait 5i which i have high hopes for. I have yet to hear the "Naim" sound yet. I will post my findings ASAP.
     
  20. Timmie Boy

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    ..........don't forget to demo the Roksan, does everything, guts and finesse.
     
  21. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Just to throw another spanner in the works, i spoke to a local dealer today who said that i should look towards changing my source instead. Having heard the difference another amp can make, i am a bit wary of doing this. I may have to try another source just to see. Will i be wasting my time adding the Cyrus 8vs2 (£800) or the Nait5i (£725) to my current source? I realise that i will not be using the amp to it's full potential, but i thought it would be a good first step. I believe the amp to be the weak link in the system.
     
  22. Dave964

    Dave964
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    A couple of weeks ago, I had a brief (unplanned) demo of some Naim stuff. I could hear quite a big difference when the amp was swapped, but not really any difference when swapping CD players. The dealer made the comment that some people find the biggest difference when changing sources, some find the biggest difference when swapping amps and you need to find which one you are and focus your efforts there.

    It sounds like you're an "amp" person - but I don't think it would do any harm to demo different sources and see what difference (if any) you notice.
     
  23. Arfa

    Arfa
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    Hmmm, keep hearing nothing but good things about the Sugden A21a.
    Other amps not mentioned so that keep getting recommended would be:-

    NVA AP70
    Creek 5350SE
    Densen Beat 100
    Exposure Gear.
    Lavardin IT or IS - but maybe a bit over budget...
     
  24. Scott_Mac

    Scott_Mac
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    I personally think the new amp will reveal more of your source than your current amp would of a new CD player...

    I used to run an Arcam CD7SE with my Naim and it sounded great.... i'd agree with the above that you should have a try of both combos, but i'd wager that a new amp will make more of a difference in your system.

    With the Naim amp, ask if you can borrow a Chord Chrysalis DIN to Phone cable to try also, in my experience whilst you can now use Phono sockets with Naim, they do still sound better with DIN cables - i have a spare you can borrow if they won't allow you to, but it's a big step IMHO.
     
  25. ChiefBrody

    ChiefBrody
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    Thanks for that Scot. I too think that the new amp will reveal more. I was just after some opinions. Cheers.
     
  26. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Chief, I think your amp is one of 2 weaks link in your system TBH, but at the amount of money you are considering spending £800 – I would suggest selling the Rega’s TBH, you could IMHO get a pair of stunning floorers for that amount – like a pair of Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk IIs – second hand – or even a new pair of Neats –

    http://www.neat.co.uk/p_pages/motivetwo.php

    If you also add the money you could recoup by selling the Regas & A80, you will have plenty for a £500-800 amp I reckon (Naim 5i, Primare A30.1, Lyngdorf SDA2175). Your system will be totally transformed. Your current CD source is perfectly adequate IMHO, there is a large feeling in audiophilia that CD players have little impact on a system compared to the differences you get from speakers firstly, then amplification to drive them properly. (I speak as an old “source first” advocate, have now came to realise for me the chain is 3:2:1 - 3 : speakers 2: amp 1: cd source).

    PS. You have learned a valuable lesson about the dealer trying to get you to spend £800 on a new CD source – when you have a speaker and amplifier bottleneck, this is pretty pointless IMHO.
     
  27. Scott_Mac

    Scott_Mac
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    I'm struggling a little with the maths here.... Regas + A80 wouldn't give enough cash to buy Nait 5i and Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mkii.... in fact i think it'd only just about give enough to get the speakers.

    I wouldn't run the Contours from an A80 either, they'd chew it up and spit it out the back.

    A Nait 5i does nice things do a set of R3's, an interesting combo and more suited to indie pop/rock i found when i borrowed some, but hey..... could always change them at a later stage.

    I do however agree that of the 3 key components, the CD player should be changed last.
     
  28. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Scott – seems to me that the chaps has £800 to play with, ie his “upgrade budget”

    £800 (considering to spend this on a CDP)

    Add to that £300-350 for A80, £300-350 for R3s if these are sold at same time.

    £1400-1500 total

    I have seen Dynaudio 1.8 IIs going for £650-750 recemnty – or the Motives £995,

    Leaves £500-750 on amplifier upgrade. I agree about ability to drive speakers (Dyns), once chosen anmplifier can be chosen to do just that. Again I have seen a Lyngdorf SDA2175 200W of power going for £700-750. You can pick up cheaper classic japanese amplifiers such as the HK 6550 (I use this with the 1.3 IIs – a notoriously stiff load) for £150-200 (PBirkett here uses the same amp into Rega too IIRC), it easliy competes in the current £1000 amp sector (no really).

    Edit :

    PS upgrading a stage at a time, throws up these conundrums. Ie how do you jump to the next stage of performance when you change component, my own experience suggests that you should look at the bigger picture than just one component, ie selling stuff en masse to achieve a real hike in perorfmance, means you can be without a system for a few weeks until you sell the gear holding your system back. But you end up with a much more solid system. I'd suggest that is where the OP is here with his A80.R3 combo, changing one item at a time will increase performance but nowhere as neat changing speakers & amplifier.

    IMHO & YMMV.


    Total system change within £800 current budget. Hope that clarifies what my post said earlier.
     
  29. Scott_Mac

    Scott_Mac
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    Your numbers add up, though i think a little optimistic for some of the values... as for Contour 1.8's for £650 ish, that genuinely surprises me, i'd have thought they'd still be near £1k... hence i didn't see the numbers at all.

    I guess you're not too far of the mark though, and certainly food for thought!

    I'd still be tempted to get the Nait now and see how it goes with the R3's as i was quite impressed with them (though i did buy Focus 110's over them, so clearly i wasn't that impressed!)
     
  30. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    http://www.hifiwigwam.com/search.php?s=1&q=1.8+MkII&forum_id=5

    £650-750
     

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