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avr200 receivers versus Naim hi fi system

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by geoffzaid, Dec 22, 2002.

  1. geoffzaid

    geoffzaid
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    Spent lifetime building up what i believe is as good as it gets in hifi (naim system[passive] using there amps,tuner,cd player and arm[remember vinyl? together with a Linn Sondec deck).
    Now we move to the multi cinema surround sound +(i.e 5.1/6.1!!)Is it really worth changing all my system over to this new format so that i can use one system for audio and visual (other half says less boxes and cables at least.
    Very confused with all these changes and now they,ve introduced hard drive as well?
    A lot of money has changed hands and if i go the way of the future it looks like it will again.
    Any advice anyone.
     
  2. steve1056

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    I had a Naim system until earlier this year (82/Hi-Caps/180/SBL). When I originally added home cinema to it, I did it through adding a Yamaha E800 processor and this drove the centre and rear speakers. It was reasonable (and very reasonably priced) for what I needed at the time.

    As I found myself watching DVD's more and more (movies & music), I found the Naim / Yamaha kit generally lacking in quality. I tried adding a good quality sub (REL Storm) to see if this helped, but I didn't like it. After a lot of auditioning of equipment in all price ranges, I settled on Dynaudio Contour / Audience speakers and Myryad electronics (MDP500/MA240/MA360). By the time I sold my Naim gear on Ebay, I didn't have to shell out too much cash. Also, I found that I didn't need a sub, which cut down on the number of boxes in the room.

    So far I have been happy and the only system I have heard to date that has been significantly better has been a Bryston / PMC (IB1) combination which is a little more than I want to pay (approx. £30,000). Never heard such clear, deep and realistic bass before or since!

    If you choose to move to Home Cinema, I'd recommend that you check out the Myryad's. They have a sound not too far from that of Naim.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    I have an Arcam AVR200 and it is a great little amp. However I reckon the sound of Arcam vs Naim is like chalk and cheese. Go demo first. The AVR200 is very good with music for a cinema amp, but I doubt it will compete with Naim kit, particularly in the excitement department.

    Steve's idea of a whole new setup may be a good one. :)
     
  4. John Dawson

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    You might want to substitute an Arcam AV8 for the Naim preamp - it is available in black and has a good optional phono stage. Believe me it is a very good and transparent preamp in 2 channel as well as a top class AV processor. You could keep the Naim power amps then if you wanted. You could alternatively use the AVR200 as a processor and rear/centre channel amp but the AV8 will be obviously better (if somewhat more expensive!).

    HTH.

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  5. Matt F

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    As you are into Naim gear then why not consider their AV2 processor? Add to this three channels of Naim power for the centre and rear channels.

    I would have thought this should cause the least disruption to your system and keep to the type of sound that you are happy with.

    I would definitely consider a subwoofer for home cinema reproduction as there are very few main loudspeakers that can deal with the low frequency information present on many DVD's.

    Matt.
     
  6. GaryG

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    If you've spent a lifetime getting the kit then I presume we're talking nearer the top of the Naim range rather than the entry level in which case it would be better to integrate the home-cinema stuff with your existing music system which is what a number of people on this forum have done. To gain the most flexibility it would be better to buy a separate AV processor so that you can use your existing music system as the left/right channels and then add additional amps for the surround channels. In an AV system the front three channels carry the most information so it would be prudent to get a good quality center channel amplifier to match your existing setup, the rear channels initially can be of lower spec without too much loss in quality. Take a look at the processors from Lexicon, Tag and Meridian in addition to the ones mentioned.
     
  7. steve1056

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    The problem with the Naim AV2 is its stereo music qualities. By Naims's own admission, it's only on par with their Nait 5. Would this be good enough quality? For what it's worth, I did briefly audition the AV2 but didn't think that much of it.

    Probably the best suggestion, especially if it's higher end Naim kit that you have, is to go the add-on processor route, and add separate power amps for centre and rear speakers as required. The other alternative is to buy a good quality home cinema amp, but power the L&R front speakers with your Naim stereo kit. This should give you the best of both worlds, although speaker matching may be a problem if you have Naim speakers.

    Geoff, what system do you have?
     
  8. geoffzaid

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    Steve : heres the list of my present system:

    Linn Sondeck LP12 (to present level)
    using Lingo power supply with Naim Aro arm and Audiotechnic OC9 cartridge.

    Naim CDI cd player

    Naim Nait tuner

    Naim Nap 250 power supply
    Naim Nac 82 pre amplifier

    Naim HiCap

    Naim SBL speakers

    I'd like to use the system as you suggest,but it is all but impossible to situate the TV between the SBL,s (I could look at modifying the room , but that is a major proposition.
     
  9. steve1056

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    Geoff,

    Looks like your system is not too far from what I had, although your 250 is a better power amp than the 180 I had. I still have my Linn Sondek/Ekos/Arkiv/Armageddon combo, but haven't used it since I changed my system. To be honest, my CD's now sound really good, compared to when I had my Naim stuff.

    My experience was that the SBL's, while being very good stereo speakers when used with a fully loaded LP12, were just not up to Home Cinema. IMO, it would be unfair to expect them to be as they were designed in the days before HC (and CD's for that matter). I was able to get my TV between the SBL's, but only just, as they are unshielded and caused "screen staining" at anything nearer than 2.5 feet from the edge of the TV.

    To be honest, I always found the SBL's lean in the bass, especially mid-bass, but this was compensated by the Sondek's mid-bass prominence to give wonderfully fast and tight bass (synergy). However, apart for a few CD's with prominent bass, I generally found results with my Arcam CD player (and many others I tried in my system, including Naims) lacking in mid and lower bass, giving a bright, hard sound which was fatiguing. For HC purposes, the SBL's totally lacked any bass power (I'm talking power and depth here, not boom), something very important for HC.

    I tried everything I could with the SBL's, including trying them with a 250 and 135's, but nothing helped. In the end I had to give up and sold my SBL's after 10-years of superb service (it was a hard decision). I then auditioned lots of speakers until I ultimately settled for Dynaudio Contours (1.8 MkII). These give powerful, clean and deep bass which I found to be just what I wanted for CD music and HC purposes. In addition, they are shielded designs and so can be closer to the TV if space is tight. The Dynaudio Audience range is also very good.

    After getting the speakers, I decided to audition some processors and HC amps. After a lot of auditioning, I listened to the Myryad stuff and liked it, was offered a killer deal and took it. Haven't looked back since or regretted it. As I said in my previous post, I have heard very little that I would say beat it significantly. However, I must admit that it is an unknown quality with my LP12 as I haven't tried it yet (need to get a phono convertor for it).

    Sorry for the long post, but I hope my experiences help. In the end, I think you will have to accept that there might have to be major changes to your system and only you can decide whether it's worth it or not.

    Good luck & Merry Xmas.

    Cheers,

    Steve
     
  10. geoffzaid

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    Thanks Steve:
    might have been a long reply , but informative non-the less.
    Can you quantify youre system: as I see it , you've now got a Myryad amplification system , inclusive of AV receiver, and Linn Sondeck for vinyl.
    What CD/DVD player do you use and or Tuner, and finally after ditching the SBL,S what total speaker system do you use.
    I have to admit I've not heard of the Myryad system so its new to me and up to now I have been considering the Arcam AVR200 Receiver with there DV88 cd/dvd player (mainly because there compatible and they are both upgradeable in terms of adding boards to cope with ever increasing changes in technology.
    How does the Myryad compare in this quarter and is you're speaker system as physically large as the SBL,s.
    I agree that unless the volume levels are up a little (I dont mean deafeningly loud) then the weak point of the SBL,s is there bass response, (small price to pay for an otherwise perfect sound). No doubt as a result of this then they would be lacking in the sub levels of cinema sound.
    Final note: 3 years ago I temporarily added to the TV side only (not hi fi) a celestion Htib home cinema, to be used until change time which is obviously coming now, hence the conversation.
    It has been suggested by my HiFi supplier that I could buy the Arcam AVR 200 (or whatever ) then use the Htib system just as a speaker system and not as a speaker and amplifier driving system and this would significantly improve the home cinema sound without interfering with the HiFi system??

    Notes ideas any thoughts.

    Geoff
     
  11. steve1056

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    Geoff,

    My current system is as follows:

    Linn Sondek LP12/Ekos/Arkiv/Armageddon
    Creek T40 Tuner
    Nakamichi CR-4 Cassette Recorder
    Pioneer PDR-609 CD Recorder
    Myryad MCD600 CD Player
    Sony DVP-S725D DVD Player (Multi-Region)
    Myryad MDP500 Cinema Processor/Pre-Amp
    Myryad MA240 2-Ch Power Amp
    Myryad MA360 3-Ch Power Amp
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk.2 Speakers (Main)
    Dynaudio Audience C122 Speaker (Centre)
    Dynaudio Audience 40 Speakers (Surround)

    The Contours are roughly the same size as the SBL's, a little narrower and a little deeper. However, they do take up slightly more floor space as they need to be at least 25 cms from a rear wall (further away is better - I have mine 50 cms away).

    I'm not sure that you will get on with the Arcam as IMO, it is a very different sound from that of Naim. Don't misunderstand me, Arcam stuff is very good, especially their more recent stuff, but you should definitely home demo it over a weekend before you buy. Personally I think that the Myryad stuff Ibought was far superior to the AVR200 Receiver (and yes, I did demo it). But then again, the Myryad combo I have retails quite a bit higher than the AVR200. The thing that attracted me most to the Myryad was that I felt it sounded a lot like my Naim stuff on stereo with clean bass and PRaT, whilst giving me surround sound quality on par with other stuff at a similar price, e.g. Tag Maclaren, Primare, Cyrus. The only stuff I heard that was noticeably better was Meridian and Bryston.

    You'll notice that I don't have a subwoofer. I did have (REL Storm Mk. 2), but got rid of it at the same time as the SBL's. Frankly I don't need it with the Dynaudio's. The Contours easily go down to 30Hz (-3db) and can reach 20Hz (-6db). While bass on some movies can go lower, I never feel as if I'm missing anything.

    Remarking on the stuff you listed as being of interest, I'd offer these comments. Personally, I don't think much of the Arcam DV88, either as a DVD player or CD player (yes, I did demo this too, a couple of times). They seem to suffer a number of picture problems with some DVD's (see other forums on this site and others) and I found that the overall picture quality didn't seem any better that my Sony DVD player on my 32" TV (might different on a bigger screen). The CD sound seemed very flat and lifeless. Also if I remember correctly, it was pretty expensive compared to the Sony's, Toshiba's and Pioneer's. On the other hand, the AVR200 sound like it could be a good bet if you can use it to drive your Celestion speakers for centre and surround duties. However, for less money, a Yamaha E800 add-on processor might be almost as good (your ears will need to be the judge). This will also provide power to your Celestion speakers.

    If you go down the route of Celestions for Home Cinema, you might be OK (way back I also used Celestions with my SBL's - MP100's I think). You might find a need to add a subwoofer to augment the bass for home cinema, and a reasonable sub for HC purposes only can be had for around £300 (MJ Acoustics, Velodyne). The bass of such a sub won't be anywhere near as good as that of your SBL's, but it will provide a bit of ooomph to movie sountracks.

    Does any of this help? Can you get to a dealer that can lend you an Arcam AVR200 or a Yamaha E800? I think that might be your best starting point.

    Cheers,

    Steve
     
  12. HiFiFan

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    Hi All,

    My first post here, and find this a most interesting site overall. Of course, being a Naim owner, I just had to comment.... :)

    I also currently own SBL's and would agree in principle about the SBL's lacking a little lower mid bass, or being if you will a bit 'lean' in the sound.

    However, I also feel that it's somewhat subjective, depending upon the room, size & furnishings etc, and relative in that most 'box' loudspeakers have colourations of one sort or another, it's pretty much what suits, and/or what compromises/balance of qualities appeals/does not appeal etc.

    Interestingly, I auditioned the Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk 11's, whilst looking for new speakers to replace a pair of B&W's proudly owned for many years, and feel them to be a superb speaker overall.

    I was able to audition them back to back with the SBL's, and thought they had a superior treble to the SBL, re openess and 'sweetness', and the midrange was also more 'neutral' IMHO than the SBL.

    However, for my tastes, which encompass jazz, techno ambient, and mostly classical, overall I eventually settled on the SBL. It was a very close thing, as the Dynaudios had the openess, or 'sound' if you will akin to B&w, with a darker tonality reminiscent of Epos 14's, and the then 25's.

    However, I'm a real classical pipe organ fan, and here, and also in various favourite jazz pieces the control, grip, articulation, extension and transient response of the SBL had the edge IMHO.

    I guess the deciding factor was that I could also upgrade to active, and personally I prefer a hybrid acoustic suspension/infinite baffle bass loading method, over bass reflex, again IMHO. But both are superb speakers in my view, but as is usual in the hifi world, feature a different set of compromises.

    Where I would, if I may be so humble as to disagree, is as regards the suitability of the SBL for HT use.

    They go down to 30Hz as well ( -3Db) and a test done a few years back in HiFi Choice, rated them (in room) as being -6Db down at 25Hz, and -8DB down at 20HZ relative 1Khz.

    Certainly I have not had any problems whatsoever re satisfaction in the bass when using them for HT duties, as I do, my only concern being not to 'overdrive' them, as I presently don't have a sub, and so I excercise some restraint with the volume when listening to movies.

    True, it's not a so called HT 'heavy' bass, but I prefer a more analytical sound anyway, and much prefer to hear detail and texture etc in the bass, rather than a typical HT 'noise' ie one explosion sounding like another.

    So yes, I'm very happy with them re performing both HT and HiFi, and have no real complaints. Of course, as always, it's only my opinion, and one will need to listen for oneself.

    BTW, the AV2 is supposedly only equal to a Nait 5, when used as a stereo preamp, however, if you're merely adding it on to the 82, then it's only being used for HT, and will have no effect on the 82 for stereo purposes whatsoever. The AV2 plus 3 channel 175 makes a very integrated and worthwhile addition to an existing Naim Audio 2 channel HiFi system IMHO.

    Hope this helps

    John. ;)
     
  13. steve1056

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    Hi John,

    Welcome. Couldn't agree with you more on the SBL compared to Contour description. No doubt about it, the SBL's do have a tighter grip on the bass. However, for me personally, while I found this trait attractive for stereo, and I did find it a difficult decision to part with them after 10 years of solid use, I found them just too lightweight for home cinema use. I find that the Contours just give just that little bit more bass weight to movie soundtracks (not just explosions) and don't find any muddying of bass sounds.

    One thing I definitely agree on is that the sound of speakers is highly room dependent. For that reason, I would continue to advise Geoff to try out a number of receivers or processors at home with his Naim stuff first. You could be right in that the AV2 may be his best bet for long term satisfaction, as long as it is used only for home cinema.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  14. HiFiFan

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    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your most kind welcome. I can well understand your great satisfaction with the Dynaudios - they're a wonderful speaker, and at times I wish I'd choosen them over the SBL's! But then, that feeling varies with music program being played, my mood etc, but overall I'm happy, and wouldn't change, however can well understand your reasons for doing so.

    If my balance of listening priorities was more biased towards HT, then yes, maybe I would consider something different if I was just starting out, and wanted to build a 'high-end' HT system.

    However, I'm fairly new to the AV side of things, having had a 'grounding' of many years in stereo, and for me that remains my priority, with the AV side of things being an interesting and most worthwhile addition to my HiFi.

    Hence I guess my 'add on' approach.

    Certainly I also agree and think Geoff would be best IMHO to listen to a number of processors etc with his Naim equipment, before making drastic changes - particularly if he's happy with the Naim 'approach' to sound reproduction, and of course depending upon his priorities re HT v's HiFi.

    Strangely enough, and here this is only my reaction - others may differ, - I tend to feel in the AV arena, that the overall enjoyment/involvement factor is fairly evenly split between the sound and the picture, my personal experience being that the picture, either size and/or quality affects me/draws me in/suspends disbelief rather more effectively than substantial upgrades to the sound side of HT.

    Certainly, I notice differences in sound quite acutely in stereo, but if I'm watching a movie, and am absorbed in the plot, dialogue, action, photography and sets etc, ie 'being there' I don't notice the sound as acutely as stereo, it seems to 'augment' things, rather than defining them, that seeming to be the effect of the picture.

    In line with this thought, I did find when auditioning the AV2, that in the context of a HT system, considering it's not inconsiderable cost, whilst one could easily hear it's substantial improvement to the sound over 'lesser/cheaper' processors, the overall sense of movie involvment did not rise anywhere near as much as if that amount of money had been spent on 2 channel stereo equipment IMHO.

    I did not put this down to any lack on the AV2's part; merely that for me, in the presence of the picture, and feeling it to be the dominating element, one did not notice the sound improvement such as to suddenly make the whole experience a 'quantum leap' in involvement/enjoyment.

    Consequently, whilst the AV2 is a 'natural' partner for a Naim HiFi, other processors could also come very close, in terms of overall movie enjoyment, and for less cost IMHO.

    Sony and Rotel come to mind. Either in the form of a seperate processor/amp combo, or a receiver used as a processor/amp for centre and rears.

    I think we must think alike, as I am not a fan of either the Arcam DVD88, or the AVR200 unfortunately. I own an Arcam tuner, and like Arcam equipment, however upon very careful audition, I found the DVD88 to be a good compromise for those wanting a one box solution to play both DVD movies, and music CD's, but as a movie only machine I too found the Sony's to comfortably outperform it in both picture and sound (on movies), - for CD I slightly preferred the Arcam over the Sony.

    I confess to having had a slight Euro Bias, but the DVP S9000ES Sony DVD player I ended up going with is a superb performer, and with a build quality and finish that is quite special, and in this part of the world for less $$ than the Arcam to boot. Hence I guess, about my thoughts for Geoff re Sony or Rotel processors.

    I'm particularly impressed with the Sony's re their bass management, and overall flexibility re their processors.

    The Arcam AVR100, and to the best of my knowledge AVR200 are made in China, and apparently by the same manufacturer as supplies a number of NAD models. Nothing wrong with that, it's all part of global manufacturing really.

    However, whilst I can't express an opinion re your local market, over here, the Arcam was twice the price of the virtually equivalent NAD, the only differences being the transformer, and minor 'tweaks' to the circuit, as far as I'm aware.

    Yes, it's all in the execution, but double the $$ is hard to bear sometimes, especially as one can buy the likes of ES Sony with a finish and build that is rare even amongst the 'high end' for less cost than the Arcam.

    So whilst I'm a Naim fan, I hope I don't have my head stuck in the sand, and am always open to new ideas, and different equipment. If you'd asked me a year ago whether anything Sony would be gracing my HiFi rack, well - like I mentioned, I recognised my own biases, and decided to rise above them.

    So I too would encourage Geoff to look at various processors, with an open mind, before ditching his carefully thought through, and by the sounds of things, loved Naim system. HT nirvana can be purchased for less than the cost of an AV2, and doesn't necessarily mean that he will have to ditch his Naim's.

    As this post is becomming somewhat lengthy, in closing I'm curious as to whether the addition of a sub would to some degree ameliorate the slight 'leaness' to the SBL sound that we both hear? At present I'm not using a Sub, so can't comment, but will most likely end up doing so, to both extend the reach of the SBL's to sub 20Hz, and also to take some 'load' off them for heavy bass/loud movie soundtracks etc. Just a thought anyway.

    Thanks once again for the welcome.

    Cheers,

    John :)
     
  15. geoffzaid

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    Thanks John and Steve:
    You've both given me a great deal of food for thought.
    I think the main thing we all agree on is let your ears do the choosing (thats where i started back in 1970 where i first heard the Sondek). So to that end I am going to arrange a home listening set up.
    You both give me + & - for the AV2 addition but johns comment of using it for the HC side of things only makes it worthwhile to put this on the list of items to check.
    You're obvious enthusiasm for the Myryad has whetted my appetite although the hinted cost of them might be prohibitive, but they will also be on my list of items for checking.
    The Sony is intriguing although their newest catalogue (and I don't rely on catalogues much ) does not list the DVP-S725D (no doubt there is an up to date model)
    Yes John I'll sample the Arcam and make my mind up regarding its abilities.

    Going to be a busy time, I think first and foremost I'll bring the TV up to date (maybe rent until I make final decisions)

    As you can see there are too many variables so I have to go through the gradual process of elimination first.

    I see it as:

    1. TV
    2. AV Receiver
    3. Speaker(s)
    4. DVD/CD player
    Finally whether to integrate any of the above into my present HiFi.
    Holidays might take a back seat in 2003

    Thank you all and happy new year.

    Geoff
     
  16. steve1056

    steve1056
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    John & Geoff,

    Just a few comments on your last two posts.

    1. I tried a sub-woofer when I had my SBL's, namely a REL Storm MkII. I kept it for just over 2-years. To be honest, I never could get on with it, either for movies or music. I just couldn't seem to get it integrated with the SBL's. I had it over a time when I was moving house and so tried various set-ups in different rooms. This leads me to think that it was system (and ears) dependent and not just room influenced. Since then I have been very wary of subs and was very happy when I found that I didn't need a sub with my Dynaudios.

    2. The Sony 725 DVD player is an old model from a couple of years ago. Sony have newer equivalent models which I believe retail at lower prices. I think that the latest 905 models might have some problems (reading posts on these forums), but I think the previous 900 model can still be acquired and this was supposed to be excellent. FYI, I got my DVD player from Richer Sounds (one of their shops - not the web site) and it was already multi-region capable with a 3-year warranty and buy back offer. I have been very happy with it.

    3. I'm not sure I would recommend any DVD player as a CD player. I certainly doubt that there are any out there that would better your Naim player.

    4. I think the current retail prices for Myryad stuff are £1800 for processor, £1,000 for MA240 and £1300 for MA360. I didn't pay this (I'm not saying how little I did pay as it was a one-off deal), but I still thought that at the full prices the system was as good as anything else around the same price and slightly higher. They now have a new version of the processor (G6 model) which I understand substantially improves it. When I get around to it, I will audition one and see whether it's worth getting mine upgraded (it's a relatively simple internal upgrade of the processor boards that can be performed by a dealer).

    Good luck Geoff. Let us know how you get on.


    Steve
     
  17. nathan_silly

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    Why not have two systems? Naim for stereo, and the new 5.1 system for av?
     

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