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best processor/pwr amp for my Kef Ref 203/202c?

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by danny daniell, Jul 26, 2004.

  1. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Hi,i am currently looking for a top quality processor/amp combo to bring out the best in my Kef set up.Said combo must be able to perform equally with music as well as cinema.My current system comprises Rotel RSP985pro,Rotel RB993/991 pwr,Nordost Flatline Gold cable & pioneer 747 Dvd player/Rel Storm sub.My current sound seems a little strained & lacking in midrange warmth,it seems a little clinical and isnt great for long range listen.Any feedback is appreciated,thanks
     
  2. Philly112

    Philly112
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    How much money do you want to spend?
    Phil
     
  3. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    Naim AV2 is very musical. Or, if you're not worried about 7.1 or PrologicII, then you might be able to find Proceeds like mine ex-dem for c. £5k for the AVP and AMP5. Staggering build and weight, and musical quality on a par with valve triodes I had many years ago.
    Others swear by Bryston for music, or even Arcam, although I found the latter disappointing and similar to the sound you are describing from the rotels.
    Best of luck
    Peter
     
  4. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    I am looking to spend around £5000.I have seen the Parasound combo on special at Sevenoaks for £4500 which interested me,how do you rate yours?I am also looking at Lexicons new integrated,but its difficult getting an audition with the 203/202c
     
  5. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Peter,how would you describe the sound of your Proceed combo?According to Paul Messenger(who reviewed a pair of 205s in Hi-Fi Choice a few months back) the new kef refs err on the cool sound of neutral,so i think i may need a slightly warm sounding amp & processor to compensate,also with lots of power as the kefs like being driven hard.7 channel is not an option but pro-logic II would be nice,but not essential.
     
  6. gizlaroc

    gizlaroc
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    Meridian, not the new G series but try and listen to a 568.2, and one of the older Parasound 2205 amps would be a good start.

    The proceed is an excellent bit of kit, there is someone selling the AVP2 with the video switching unit and the PMDT transport with the progressive module on hififorsale.com, he is asking £6k and to be honest it is the AVP2 that you are really wanting, however the DVD is superb transport, that was originally about as stable as windows!! but with the lastest firmware no probs at all. You would still need a power amp though.

    There is also an AVP1 on there too, at £1750, excellent processor and worth the money, but, I know 2 people who have bought them recently for about a grand or just over so may well be worth trying to get him down if possible.

    However, I would borrow some different cable before you do anything, I find the flatline too shrill in the mid and top end when playing it at even moderate levels, I had my whole system wired with it including interconnects when using a MF A1 in my 2 channel set up, but as I moved into home cinema it had to go.
     
  7. idhutt

    idhutt
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    Second hand Meridian 568.2 with the new V2.5 software @~£2000, a decent amp and spend the rest on DVD's and music or a Meridian 598DP DVD-A player to match. Alternatively a Meridian G68 @~£5000 and save up for a decent amp. Both equally at home with music and cinema and both in the premiere league.
     
  8. GaryG

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    The new range of KEF Reference are more 'forward' in their presentation than the older range due to the new Hyper tweeter and re-worked Uni-Q tweeter. I auditioned the Meridian G68 with the new Reference range and found it far too 'bright' and 'edgy' for my liking, probably not what you are looking for.

    Meridian is often quoted as being good for music as well as cinema, certainly I found that to be the case over a Lexicon DC-1 and MC-1, the 568.2 is more laid back than the G68 and may be more to your liking, especially with pre v2.5 software, reports on various forums indicate that the latest software makes it sound more like a G68.

    In your position I would also look at a better source, I found the Arcam range reasonable, the Meridian 596 and 598 aren't bad and the Tag DVD32FLR was pretty good, but if you want top notch DVD and CD playback get yourself off to a dealer and audition the Meridian G98, it's not perfect but can be modified by third-party specialists at a later date to address some of it's short-commings. In fact, if you just need standard AV decoding the G91 may fit the bill if it's not too bright.

    If you decide to investigate Meridian kit it would be well worth your while contacting P.J. Hi-fi.
     
  9. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Thanks for the response everybody!I agree,the Nordost cable could be a problem,unfortunately for me,i purchased the cable and installed it under my floorboards/chased and plastered over & up my walls before i purchased my current Kef system(previously i owned the Kef THX satellites which were warmer for cinema but no good for music),which may make it difficult for me to make a cable change.I take the point that the new Ref series Kefs have a forward sound which is great as they have a truly crystaline clarity,but i want to add a touch of rich,fruity analogue warmth into the mix(i know,difficult with those Nordost cables!)I heard the the mighty 207s/204c anchored up to Chord electronics at last years heathrow show & they sounded truly Phenomenol but £50,000 is a little out of my price range!I need an amp that will flesh out vocals & general harmonics right through the frequency range,sound is too anaemic.Interestingly,i posed this same question to a member of the What-Hi-Fi friday afternoon query team & his suggestion was the new Yamaha Dsp AZ9!Any thoughts?
     
  10. Philly112

    Philly112
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    Sorry I haven't replied to you re the Parasound kit.
    Can't comment re your speakers, but my M&K's are not exactly laid back (OK, they're well bright!) but the Parasound processor seems to have tamed them alot. I was using a Yamaha AX1 (two models before the new AZ9). Although a great amp, I found that the sub out left alot to be desired - you may want to check this out with the new Yamaha. My AX1 was also a little bright.
    If you want 7.1 maybe a top of the range integrated is the way to go - the Parasound power amps are all 5 channel (2 channel add ons are available, but these push the cost up alot).
    One thing with Parasound/Meridian and the rest is the upgradability factor - Yamaha don't seem to have been so proactive in this area as, say, Denon (there was never a prologic 2 upgrade made available for my AX1 for example). Meridian seem to be very upgradeable, and Parasound say that upgrades (HDMI, maybe room equalisation) will be available for the C2 shortly. Although the AZ9 seems to have all these now...!
    Also you may want to look at the Arcam stuff - the new processor and 7 channel power amp get good reviews both in the press and here on the forums.
    My gut feeling is that for this money you would be better off with a good pre/power combo than the AZ9 - a good power amp will last many years, and I'd love to see the second hand value of an AZ9 in 3 years time should you want to change it.
    Phil
     
  11. GaryG

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    You could try a Tact RCS, it allows you to tailor the frequency response as well as do room correction. The f3 point on the older Ref 4's is about 34hz so I've extended the bass with my RCS to change the f3 to around 20hz as a good compromise to avoid using my sub with music (because the sub is not in the same plane as the main speakers I notice integration issues when listening to music).
     
  12. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Gary,i have been keeping a keen eye on the new tact processor and am waiting for a review of the multi-channel version.Apparently the stereo version is fantastic.My kit is situated in a pretty large room(40ft by 20ft by 9ft high) & i feel this may be contributing to my "thin" sound,possibly the tact could go some way to correcting this,so do you use one with model fours?Do you know what the prices are & do they do a matching power amp?Also has anyone had any experience of EAD electronics?
    Thanks,Danny
     
  13. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    Hi
    It sounds more and more like the proceed may be for you, as it is the warmest of the amps I listened to, making the Arcam sound forced, and the Bryston hard. EAD is a brand that interested me, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I found the old Meridians a bit flat and didn't want to pay the extra for the G series, so didn't listen to it.
    All that said, I never listeneed to the Parasound, and many on here swear by it.
    Peter
     
  14. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Thanks Peter,your comments have just confirmed my suspicions of what i have read about the brands you mention & i shall put Proceed & Parasound on my shortlist.Incidentally,i heard Proceed electronics hooked up to Revel speakers at the London Hi-Fi show around three years ago,& it was truly stunning.Made cd sound equally as good as anything i have heard on sacd or DvdA
     
  15. GaryG

    GaryG
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    Tact now have a UK presence, www.tactaudio.co.uk prices are listed on the website. A home demo will cost £200, although a demo at a dealers is FOC. They do matching digital amps.

    Yes I use a Tact with the Ref 4's, you're more than welcome to visit if you want to check out the Tact.
     
  16. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Gary,my dad uses Model 4s/200c,Rotels new 1098 processor/rmb 1095pwr amp,pioneer 757i dvd & audioquest Indigo+ cables & the sound he has got is superb,beautifully rich but.crisp & massive slam.Sometimes i think i should have gone for the Model 4s,but i was seduced by the looks of the 203s(plus the added benefit of the supertweeter for hi-res playback).I think the 203s are a lot fussier than the model 4s,but once i get the right amp,i think they will hit the jackpot.I would love to hear your system with the tact,i am pretty sure they will be demonstating at the Hi-Fi show in sept,are you going?
     
  17. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    Danny
    Missed in one of your last notes that you have a very large room. Me too at 35'x25'x9'. I found the proceed fills this with a really lush sound, even at relatively low volumes. I believe the AMP5 is the real contributor, as it seems totally unflappable, and runs classA, ie very hot and a similarly warm sound. Out of interest, I took the pair on demo and then took them to one of the premier London stores, which was trying at the time to sell me Meridian/Naim/Arcam alternatives. Their verdict after a comparative demo was that I should go with the Proceed, described as true high end sound.
    My problem was lack of Prologic II (although the AVP2 referred to above would have that), and potential lack of support for a dead brand. However, Harman seem to be supporting the warranty, and I've now got over all reservations, preferring instead to enjoy the uncluttered soundstage and beautiful sound I now get on both movies and music.

    Peter
     
  18. GaryG

    GaryG
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    No, I've spoken to Tony Seaford, the Midlands dealer and will be arranging to audition the newer RCS 2.2x to see if offers any benefit over the original model.
     
  19. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    peter,is the AVP2 upgradable?I know Proceed have now swapped over to ML but is it a relatively recent model?
     
  20. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    The AVP2 is the upgraded model, launched i think in late 2002, and including Prologic II and upgraded components. I think it unlikely that futher upgrades will appear, but that Mark Levinson will offer a reasonable trade in for their new processor when it appears. There has already been a similar offer against lexicon processors.
    There is quite a good review of the original avp here http://www.audiorevolution.com/equip/proceed_avp/ and here
    http://www.audiorevolution.com/equip/proceedamp5/
    which you might find of interest.
     
  21. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Peter,i think you have sold me on the Proceeds.Looking back through the postings,Gizlaroc(good name)informed me that there are a couple of Avp processors for sale on Hi-fiforsale.com.I think my big problem may be getting hold of the amp5....
     
  22. gizlaroc

    gizlaroc
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    I was comparing the Proceed AVP1 with somone last night against the Bryston sp1.7, that he is thinking of buying, and it is a bloody good unit, if I didn't have an MC8 on its way then I would buy it off him, in fact I still might.
    I would email the guy on hififorsale and see what price he would drop to, if you don't worry about having the latest formats like PLIIx etc. I don't think you could do alot better.
    And if I had known a week ago that he was wanting around £1500 for it I would not have ordered the MC8.
     
  23. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    the guy offering the £5995 setup says he may split the items,so i may offer him around £1400 just for the Avp2.I also noticed that there is a guy offering an MC-8 for £2750,which i thought was a good price.What cable did you upgrade to after the Flatline Gold? I would prefer the Avp2 for PrologicII as i do quite a lot of listening from Sky. What is the rest of your rig?
     
  24. gizlaroc

    gizlaroc
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    If you get it for £1400 I would be sick, they go for about £4k on the very rare occasions they crop up. The switcher about £800 and the dvd about £15,000.
    That is £15,000 worth of processor and dvd player you are talking about.

    I used and am still using chord rumour, nice and detailted in the top end with a nice smooth midrange. Oh and not to expensive as I needed 2x 7m and a 5m for the centre. First multistrand I have had for years. I made a couple interconnects as well from it when I had a pioneer 737 and that made a huge difference, liquid sounding if that makes sense :) But that may change when I get the Lexicon.

    I spoke to the guy selling the MC8, seems a really nice guy, I was going to buy it from him but another one cropped up from someone I have dealt with before.

    rest of the kit at the moment is DV89, Kef THX, rel strata (needs upgrading I know), Cinepro 3k6 (stunning), and decicing on cd player or transport.
    Going to change the speakers as soon as I can afford it or get some more musical mains at least.
     
  25. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    £4000? for christ sakes?!!!,how much are they new?I think i may be being a little optimistic offering him £1400,but if he wants some cash,who knows?Honestly though,dont you think this stuff is rediculously overpriced?Like the Kef 207/Chord rig i heard last year,probably weighing at about £80,000 altold.It sounded good,but not that good.
    If you have the TDMs,those were my previous speakers,very good,but not reference status.How do you feel about the new Kef Refernce range?
     
  26. gizlaroc

    gizlaroc
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    New it is £6,900, if you get it for £1400 I will give you double for the cheek of asking ;)

    I bought the TDM's because I was going to use them just for movies and no music at all, now I need to have a re think.

    To be honest I wouldn't buy Kef unless they were at a price that I couldn't refuse, I would rather have a pair of 1.2 or 2.2 than the newer ones, I don't like too sharp a sound, which I do find them.
     
  27. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    I dont really think the new refs have a sharp sound,just that need to be partnered with extreme care,they will certainly show any deficiencies in your electonics/cables,as they are doing with mine!Going back to the 207/Chord rig i heard last year:no sharpness at all,just totally natural sound at extremely high volume.The Kef guy played a chamber piece on sacd (lots of deep organ bass) & i kid you not,you would have thought you were sitting in the goddam church! Ther is no way the Model 4s could come anywhere near the openness & majesty of that sound ,but in fairness the 207s are double the price.
     
  28. idhutt

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    If your new refs don't have a sharp sound, I would again recommend the Meridian 568.2 to be included on your shortlist. The new v2.5 s/w, that I have in beta, is fabulous and is due to be released imminently (via free s/w download). Its a new machine - should be called the 568.3. As well as offering PLIIx, the increase in detail (which was not in short supply in the first place), especially in the mid to upper ranges is fantastic - the MGM lion roar when I walk away from my TV at the start of a DVD still makes me jump in fright. Sound wise, my initial B2B tests between my 598.2MM and G68 indicate that there is nothing in it. But, if your downstream kit is not overly bright in the first place, it seems to be a matter of personal taste on whether this mid/top end change is due to perceved brightness, which some do not like, or extra detail.

    As always, compiling a shortlist from reviews and other peoples experiences is fine, but in the end, an audition is a must, especially at the high end of the market.

    -Ian
     
  29. rags

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    I have listened to the new Kef Ref range extensively and I really feel that they are superb speakers. Running off an MC8 and Chord amps they didnt sound toppy at all. It's all relative I suppose but I would highly recommend them. Ultimately settled on Nautilus speakers predominantly on the strength of the HTM1 as I mostly watch movies.
     
  30. gizlaroc

    gizlaroc
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    The kefs are quite lively and I wouldn't not have them as they are very good speakers but the 205's that I listend to were £4k and I think I would rather spend money elswhere as for £4k I would want them to be exactly the sound I like.

    When I said sharp that was probaly a little harsh (no pun intended) but they are too lively for me, compared with what else you can buy at that price.

    The system I was listening to at James' place consisted of (hope he doesn't mind me putting this)

    Tag dvd32 transport (and Nu-vista cd player)
    Audio Synthesis Dac (from memory)
    Bryston sp 1.7 and Proceed AVP
    Balanced Audio Technology VK-6200 Power amp (It doesn't get alot better than this) DETAILS
    Dunlavy SC-IV main speakers PICTURE HALF WAY DOWN

    Not sure what power conditier he is using but it is in the system.

    That, is a smooth sound, serious amounts of detail and bass that makes you grin like a nervous child.

    Now I would rather spend £4k on the Dunlavys' than £4k on a pair of model 207's.
     

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