First Post, New System Ideas

Pricy

Standard Member
Hi All,

Glad to be here at long last! I'm going to kick-off with another 'what system' thread (apologies for that) but I am currently mulling over a few ideas for a long over-due new system. Many years ago (like 20ish!) I owned B&W 603's with a Rotel RA-03 amp and can't answer the question as to why it's taken so long to sort a viable replacement! Partly it will be due to the ease and tidiness of the Sonos gear that I do have, but you can't beat proper Hi Fidelity, right? So here I am...

The room in question is 4m x 3.3m. I listen to all sorts, but mostly like bass heavy electronic music, through to 80s/90s bands.
Initially I set a budget of around £1200 for a set of speakers and amplifier with bluetooth, to stream for now until I can add a dedicated streamer & CD player.

I have auditioned a few ideas. Initially thinking the Audilolab 6000b and B&W 606's might work well. The 607's were only available, which didn't have the punch I'm looking for. However, the Monitor Audio Silver 100's sounded much more the ticket, which were paired with the Cambridge CAX-81. Great system but with stands and cables, I'm looking around £1700. So what concession to make?
Firstly, I think the CXA 61 will have enough power for the Silver 100's. I haven't heard the larger B&W 606's yet but are currently on offer at a steal - £300 cheaper than the Silver 100's. And then I keep looking at the 6g Silver 100's which can be had for £429. They're not as nice a finish as the new model granted, but I'd bet a gold clock that the new model isn't twice the listening experience?

The final piece of this jig saw, is cables of course. I've been swayed by the glowing reviews of Audioquests Rocket 11, but do I need to push the boat out to this level (circa £200 terminated)? I'll need 4.5M as the one run needs that unfortunately (slight odd placement in the room). Ultimately I won't scrimp, and certainly don't like to buy twice, so open to suggestions.

Anyway, I've searched around here but would appreciate any ideas that I may have over-looked, or affirmations of my initial ideas. Many thanks in advance.
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
I've got the CXA61 and really like it. It has all the connectivity I need, and drives my speakers (Ophidian Mojos) really well.

If you're interested in either the 61 or 81, have a look at Cambridge Audio's eBay shop - they a number of refurbished units well under RRP.

Mine was listed as open-box, but it looked absolutely brand new.
 

Pricy

Standard Member
I've got the CXA61 and really like it. It has all the connectivity I need, and drives my speakers (Ophidian Mojos) really well.

If you're interested in either the 61 or 81, have a look at Cambridge Audio's eBay shop - they a number of refurbished units well under RRP.

Mine was listed as open-box, but it looked absolutely brand new.
Thanks for the reply. I have been watching the eBay shop for a couple of weeks, it seems that the CXA81 is a better deal there, with the CXA61 currently only £50 below new. I think I'd pay the extra for the additional warranty, but will certainly keep an eye on it.

I have read one report that mentioned the CXA61 doesn't play very well with the B&W 606's at low level, they seem to need to be driven?
 

Pricy

Standard Member
Wow! Looks like inflation has found it's way into the Cambridge range tonight. CXA-81 up £200 (£1199) and CXA-61 up £150! So CXA-61 at £899 now, most reviews suggested it's probably slightly over-priced as it was.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Hifix have some good deals at the moment this amp/speaker combo has a lot of bang for the buck, Bluetooth included. A tad over budget but you can claim some of that back as you do not need to spend much at all on speaker cable Amazon Kabeldirekt 2.5sq.mm OFC cable is all you need £15 for 10m - copper is copper and so long as it has enough cross section they all sound the same irrespective of how you dress them up.

Cyrus One HD £699

Wharfedale Evo 4.2 three way stand mounts £599

Review detailing how the bass has of pretty good quality - EVO 4.2 Speakers From Wharfedale

https://www.amazon.co.uk/KabelDirekt-2x2-5mm²-Speakers-Surround-polarity/dp/B098NS8FD3/ref=sr_1_9?keywords=Kabeldirekt+2.5&qid=1648761731&sr=8-9
 
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Pricy

Standard Member
Hifix have some good deals at the moment this amp/speaker combo has a lot of bang for the buck, Bluetooth included. A tad over budget but you can claim some of that back as you do not need to spend much at all on speaker cable Amazon Kabeldirekt 2.5sq.mm OFC cable is all you need £15 for 10m - copper is copper and so long as it has enough cross section they all sound the same irrespective of how you dress them up.

Cyrus One HD £699

Wharfedale Evo 4.2 three way stand mounts £599
The Cyrus One was an amp that I really thought could be a contender early on, but the reviews are so mixed. Have you personally used one? The build seemed to be questioned I recall.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I don’t have the One HD but have heard a number of Cyrus amps and they have all been pretty dynamic, older ones were a little bright but the latter one less so. The Hifipig and the review on this forum were good and remember that this was a £1k amp when reviewed not a £699 amp.



As usual advice is to always audition if you can but this pairing on the face of it shows good value and should provide a good sound, the three way speakers will help a lot.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
I don't know if this is still available as I think one of the forum members may have bought it but worth giving them a call. They will deliver and some of us have managed to negotiate a bit more off the already heavily discounted price. Don't think it has bluetooth though and the built in streaming is fairly useless but that aside I'm really impressed with it. An absolute steal at the price. The RRP is not £799 as they have quoted. It was two and a half grand on release!

 

tazzo1

Active Member
Second hand shops online will get you a great bargain for speakers. Be sure to review who you buy from and use credit as opposed to a debit card should the deal not go as planned.

This stores below have many bargains and has me wishing I was on the market for new speakers.



Don't bother with expensive cables, your units should come first, use the excess cash for a better system. I use very cheap non branded speaker cable and just spent £15 on a pair of interconnects to replace my old very expensive ones, not too much difference in terms of sonics.
 

Pricy

Standard Member
Second hand shops online will get you a great bargain for speakers. Be sure to review who you buy from and use credit as opposed to a debit card should the deal not go as planned.

This stores below have many bargains and has me wishing I was on the market for new speakers.



Don't bother with expensive cables, your units should come first, use the excess cash for a better system. I use very cheap non branded speaker cable and just spent £15 on a pair of interconnects to replace my old very expensive ones, not too much difference in terms of sonics.

Sorry, which store do you refer to?
 

tazzo1

Active Member
Either of the two stores listed, or a quick Google search for "second hand audio" will yield favourable results.
 

Pricy

Standard Member
Can pick up a refurbed CXA-61 for £699 and the £450 for the 606 anniversaries would see me in budget with stands and cables… just.
 

tazzo1

Active Member
Will you be able to return the items in case you don't like the sound? A demo is always recommended.
 

Pricy

Standard Member
Will you be able to return the items in case you don't like the sound? A demo is always recommended.

This is what’s holding me back. The Cambridge amp means I’m tied to Richers but my local store didn’t have the 606’s in the other week. I’ll give them a call tomorrow and see if they can source them.
 

Hoku

Active Member
I’d recommend that you audition the Quad Vena II, just the vanilla one without streaming, not the “Play” version that costs more but adds a very questionable streaming facility.

£649ish for the standard grey model, £800ish for the gloss finishes. Includes Bluetooth, 2 optical, 2 coax & USB input. IMO, the sound quality is some considerable way superior to the Cyrus HD.

The Quad has a more full bodied natural tone, but also has excellent dynamics and timing: it sounds a lot more meaty and driven than its power figures might indicate.

I owned the Cambridge Azur 640a in the past, that’s an older non digital input predecessor of the CXA61. I would say the Quad has the excellent drive and timing of the Cambridge, but with better tonality, body and midrange.

I personally found the Cyrus One quite unappealing. Tonally quite unnatural and just not especially engaging either. But to be fair it wasn’t a proper controlled demo with my own choice of music and speakers. So I’ll give the Cyrus the benefit of the doubt for now.

But the Quad leaves you a decent wad for speakers, stands and cables from your budget. Tonally the Quad is just a smidgen on the warm side of neutral, but its only judged that way because of the body in the midrange. The treble is very well judged with plenty of bite in brass instruments for example.

So what I’m saying is that you would need to pair it with speakers that are close to neutral themselves: nothing too etched or forward, otherwise they could undo the good the Quad provides, and ideally the speakers also need to have good rhythm and timing, so they pass on the speed that the Quad delivers them.

My vintage Ruark Epilogue II’s match really well indeed, so a modern speaker that’s not a million miles away in character would be the DALI Opticon 1 mk2, but at £599 list, that does take you a smidge over budget. You could look at Opticon mk1’s on Ebay as they have only quite recently been discontinued.
 

Pricy

Standard Member
I don't know if this is still available as I think one of the forum members may have bought it but worth giving them a call. They will deliver and some of us have managed to negotiate a bit more off the already heavily discounted price. Don't think it has bluetooth though and the built in streaming is fairly useless but that aside I'm really impressed with it. An absolute steal at the price. The RRP is not £799 as they have quoted. It was two and a half grand on release!

That looks a really excellent bargain for sure. I am however going to need to be able to stream from the off as I don’t currently have any thing to plug into the amp and utilise, those will have to follow afterwards. I just need to use my limited budget to get the amp and speakers fairly right.
 

Pricy

Standard Member
I’d recommend that you audition the Quad Vena II, just the vanilla one without streaming, not the “Play” version that costs more but adds a very questionable streaming facility.

£649ish for the standard grey model, £800ish for the gloss finishes. Includes Bluetooth, 2 optical, 2 coax & USB input. IMO, the sound quality is some considerable way superior to the Cyrus HD.

The Quad has a more full bodied natural tone, but also has excellent dynamics and timing: it sounds a lot more meaty and driven than its power figures might indicate.

I owned the Cambridge Azur 640a in the past, that’s an older non digital input predecessor of the CXA61. I would say the Quad has the excellent drive and timing of the Cambridge, but with better tonality, body and midrange.

I personally found the Cyrus One quite unappealing. Tonally quite unnatural and just not especially engaging either. But to be fair it wasn’t a proper controlled demo with my own choice of music and speakers. So I’ll give the Cyrus the benefit of the doubt for now.

But the Quad leaves you a decent wad for speakers, stands and cables from your budget. Tonally the Quad is just a smidgen on the warm side of neutral, but its only judged that way because of the body in the midrange. The treble is very well judged with plenty of bite in brass instruments for example.

So what I’m saying is that you would need to pair it with speakers that are close to neutral themselves: nothing too etched or forward, otherwise they could undo the good the Quad provides, and ideally the speakers also need to have good rhythm and timing, so they pass on the speed that the Quad delivers them.

My vintage Ruark Epilogue II’s match really well indeed, so a modern speaker that’s not a million miles away in character would be the DALI Opticon 1 mk2, but at £599 list, that does take you a smidge over budget. You could look at Opticon mk1’s on Ebay as they have only quite recently been discontinued.
Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll see if Richers can set up an audition of the quad quickly, I might have to rush into the amp if I do decide that the CXA is still Best Buy. 45 watts looks to be on the lighter side was my initial thoughts?
The first thing I read on the opticons was “light on bass” which is where I definitely don’t want to scrimp. Plenty to dwell on though so thanks for your input.
 

gava

Well-known Member
Fantastic speaker bargain.


If you don't like the look of these - then there are a lot of very respectable floorstanders in the £700-£800 range.

Incredible amplifier.

Amazon product

Outstanding streamer. (I have one of these).


On budget and will give you a genuinely top=class system. Far outperforming some of the other items you are looking at.

And for goodness' sake don't waste any of a £1,200 budget on expensive cables; you are literally throwing away money in a relatively tight budget. Amazon basics are fine.

Reviews/threads:






There are quite a few threads on this player on the forum if you search.

And I'd personally stay away from the CXA81

 
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acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
Hi. With a £1700 budget, you can get a range of great speaker/amp combo's. As noted above, I'd save on cables. £50 should be more than enough for 5m of decent speaker wire.

2x 3m runs, terminated:

This is a lot of amp for the money:

You could also do a lot worse than the Rega Io or Brio/Kyte combo.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Initially at least, if you’re looking for a cheap streamer, you could do a lot worse than this…

Audio Pro Link 1

Crucially, unlike the Yamaha equivalent, it has an optical output so as long as your amp has an optical input, you can take advantage of the DAC inside the amp.

I use it for streaming Tidal. For streaming music subscription services it works well. I don’t however use it for streaming downloaded music (as I don’t have any), and for that I understand it’s less successful.

So as long as you’re just using it for streaming a music subscription service, it would fit the bill. Of course the Quad Vena II has Bluetooth built in.

As to your reference of the Quad’s watts per channel, well there’s watts and there’s watts. The mark II has a much improved power supply so it has high current and drive. So it could happily drive all but the most inefficient speakers, with gusto.
 

gava

Well-known Member
Ah yes, and of course there is now the Wiim Mini streamer.
 

Pricy

Standard Member
Have arranged a listen tomorrow of the NAD 368 and a Roksan Attessa as there’s one on clearance within budget. See what another store comes up with.
Spoke to Richers and they felt the QUAD Vena II wasn’t up to the silver 100’s really with the digital output.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Have arranged a listen tomorrow of the NAD 368 and a Roksan Attessa as there’s one on clearance within budget. See what another store comes up with.
Spoke to Richers and they felt the QUAD Vena II wasn’t up to the silver 100’s really with the digital output.
They haven’t heard it then.

I’d happily pair speakers up to £1.5k on the Vena II, and the Silver 100’s are quite sensitive speakers anyway. They just need enough grip of the bass, which the Vena would happily provide.

In the end though, system matching, tonal balance and synergy between amp and speakers is more critical than each component choice individually.

And the resultant tonal balance has to be right for your taste. If an amp and speakers are both too forward, even though ‘better’ (read, more expensive), they’ll sound worse than cheaper components that are matched better.
 
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Ascotbilly

Well-known Member
They haven’t heard it then.

I’d happily pair speakers up to £1.5k on the Vena II, and the Silver 100’s are quite sensitive speakers anyway.
Agreed - @Pricy, I had a similar Hifi absence as yourself and getting back into it I agree with the common theme on here that the piece of kit having the most effect of the sound is the speakers, back in the day it was the source.

Another suggestion to the Vena albeit two components would be the Rega Io and the Ifi Zen Blue II. Both this combo and the Vena leave you more than enough for a good set of speakers.

Good hunting….
 

Hoku

Active Member
They haven’t heard it then.

I’d happily pair speakers up to £1.5k on the Vena II, and the Silver 100’s are quite sensitive speakers anyway. They just need enough grip of the bass, which the Vena would happily provide.

In the end though, system matching, tonal balance and synergy between amp and speakers is more critical than each component choice individually.

And the resultant tonal balance has to be right for your taste. If an amp and speakers are both too forward, even though ‘better’ (read, more expensive), they’ll sound worse than cheaper components that are matched better.
And, although I rate Richer Sounds very highly (I’ve had consistently good service from them at two different dealers over 20 years), it’s perhaps not too surprising that a dealer would recommend the more expensive option. They’re not a charity after all. But it is your wallet, not theirs!
 

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