Good options to match with Arcam SA20/CDS50 & Rega P3

Whiskyguy

Standard Member
First time post, long time lurker!

It’s about 2 years since my Cambridge Audio Azur CD player gave up the ghost and I finally got round to looking for a replacement. Ended up going with the CDS50 for the built in streaming in a single unit and took the opportunity to upgrade my amp (Yamaha AS500) to the SA20. Have always liked the more relaxed/smooth sound of Arcam and am delighted with this combo.

Trouble was due to young family I’d moved my Hifi to the dining/kitchen room with hardwood floors a few years back and nothing ever sounds good in there. With the upgrade decided to move everything back to the living room (decent sized rectangular room with bay window) and it’s sounding so much better.

With the upgrade I’m now getting into music again (rediscovering my CD collection and enjoying new stuff via Tidal) so am interested in upgrading my speakers which are 20 year old B&W 602 S3s. I still quite like them as I enjoy a vast range of music from jazz and classical to hip hop and dance. The large cabinets provide some decent bass without needing a sub, however I’m sure as entry level speakers of a vintage they are going to lack a bit of refinement compared to modern alternatives.

I’m keen to understand what options I should be looking at for upgrade speakers? I’m probably going to add a deck like the rega P3 soon. Interconnects are old QED qunex 2 and speaker cable QED Ruby Anniversary. Never been happy with the later and the qunex 2 due an upgrade too so assume they are both changing for the better.

Ideally I want the best of both worlds - something that adds more refinement and detail but also supports decent bass. If that’s not possible happy to look at running a sub off the SA20 as another option for when music style demands more low end. Budget £1k - ideally a bit less.

thanks!
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Welcome to forum😊. Though answer, tough opinions on which way to go. From my googling I see you have the old B&W book shelves speakers. If I’m not entirely mistaken? You say you want a more refined sound with more bass without subwoofer or with a subwoofer. But you don’t mentions if you want floor speakers or book shelves speakers? The B&W you have now are quite good, in fact very good. B&W in my humble opinion have lost their way a bit the last 10-15 years or so. Just getting brighter, and brighter in their sound signature. Before they sounded neutral, warm also. Not so bright as now. Now a days they are too neutral for my ears. But I’m only guessing if you want floor standing speakers or not. So I’ll start with some floor standing speakers options first. I see you have Arcam. Arcam are superb hifi kit, and well suit most speakers good. In that price tag I’m guessing if you go for new speakers around Dali Oberon 7? Correct? I’m Norwegian my self, but I can’t be that far off? 🤔. Anyway I do believe Dali Oberon 7 we’ll give a more refined sound especially in the midrange. Dali are very forward in their sound compared to before. In fact the most refined of the bunch I’m suggesting, but it’s your ears and every speaker sound different in each room. This I think we’ll suit Arcam house sound very well indeed. Other options are the KEFQ550. I would my self go for them as like KEF sound approach more then Dali. Warmer sound, but still as detailed as Dali though in a different way. Others are Tannoy XTF8, or 6 if they still can be bought new? If you can stretch your budget a bit then perhaps the Dynaudio Emit 30 could do the trick. Perhaps rather just stick with what you got a buy subwoofer instead? This are very difficult answers to respond to as you may not like what I suggest. But the ones I’m suggesting I have only heard Dali Oberon 7 myself. Was not so impressed when I heard them. But sounded okey. Not that open and warm in the midrange. But rather thin sounding. Not thin in words. Full bass and all. Just a tad bright. This is because their midrange, treble are very forward. Much more then before, but many like the Dali sound. But I think the Dali well sound very good with Arcam warm sound. This are floor standing speakers of course, and we’ll give you much more bass then speakers you have now. I did heard some Dynaudio, KEF at my dealers a few years go, not the ones discussed but other floor standing models. Much better sounding. But I do believe perhaps your best luck is a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 6 compared to Dali Oberon 7. A bit more bass with Monitor audio, and warmer sound. Perhaps not as refined as the Dali Oberon 7, but it’s difficult to tell with your Arcam amplifier. But I do believe Monitor Audio well be the best choice. I have heard the Silver 6. The sound was clear as ice. Very deep bass, open midrange. Anyway it’s your ears. But I do believe Arcam we’ll drive these options we discussed very good. Though perhaps not Dynaudio. But I do think the Arcam we’ll drive them well. Arcam makes good amplifiers . Anyways it has pre outs should you need more power. But then again your old B&W speakers are bit though to drive properly and it seems your Arcam is more then up to the task giving good sound. If you want book shelves speakers then models from the ones I mentioned well also do nicely. Like the KEF LS50. But maybe they are tad too pricey new, but there are many used models to be found, that includes floor standing speakers also. Should you consider a subwoofer then SVS are always a good brand. Anyway I’m here for more answers should you wish. Other members well soon join also. Good luck.😊
 
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wokeye

Active Member
I've always found KEF speakers to be a really good match for Arcam amps, I've had 3 different KEF speakers with 2 Arcam amps, and just can't fault any of the combinations.

It never, ever sounds fatiguing, but is also very detailed and neutral sounding. I've never tried different speakers with the Arcam amps, so can't really judge if anything could be better. They are both good brands for my taste in music.

I have the KEF R500's with an Arcam FMJ A39, they are fantastic speakers, and a bargain if you can still get them. If you like really pushing the speakers at high volumes, the SA20 might not have enough power for these speakers, and would probably cut out after a few minutes at really loud volume levels. At lower volumes it would be fine though, if you don't listen to music that loud, or live in an attached house. I'd imagine the Q550 would be ideal though. If looking at floor standing speakers.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Yes, so many brands to consider. But I also think KEF, the ones I mentioned well suit the Arcam fine. Dynaudio if he can afford them. I’m not entirely sure power wise. It’s all subjective indeed, but of course power is important. But I do think Arcam we’ll suit both of the ones I mentioned. He just has to try the Dynaudio and see if he’s Arcam can keep up the pace. Of the ones I mentioned Dali are the easiest ones to drive. But it’s he’s ears so he needs to listen to the speakers I mentioned before he can be certain he likes the sound.
 
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Douggie

Member
I'm using the Proac Studio 148 floorstanders with my SA20. Really a nice combination. Decent details and bass without fatigue. Very crucial during these extended times stuck at home.
 

madfiddler

Active Member
if you say you like the speakers you have then why bother “upgrading”? If you feel they aren’t delivering the sound you’d prefer then fair enough I suppose!

I prefer floorstanders as not a fan of ugly stands for bookshelves when I haven’t got anywhere else to naturally sit them. so I don’t know if your room would suit but worth considering maybe?

I’m running spendor a2 with my SA30 and really like them, if I had a little more space I perhaps would have gone to the A4.....new they are over your budget, but worth looking out for spendor second hand or PMC possibly. Although not avaulable new I had my eye out for GB1i for a while.

Others I considered were MA 200 Silver, I never demo’d but wondered if their apparent brightness would go well with a warmer Arcam? that being said from what everyone says of the olde Arcam amps (which I don’t have experience of) I’m not convinced the new HDA range is as warm tbh. Also had Rega RX3 in the shortlist but didn’t get that far either once I’d heard the Spendor A2

take your time and try and find dealers who are happy to ship to you for demo, you’ll likely have to ship back as things stand at the moment though I guess...
 
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willsmusic

Standard Member
I've always found KEF speakers to be a really good match for Arcam amps, I've had 3 different KEF speakers with 2 Arcam amps, and just can't fault any of the combinations.

It never, ever sounds fatiguing, but is also very detailed and neutral sounding. I've never tried different speakers with the Arcam amps, so can't really judge if anything could be better. They are both good brands for my taste in music.

I have the KEF R500's with an Arcam FMJ A39, they are fantastic speakers, and a bargain if you can still get them. If you like really pushing the speakers at high volumes, the SA20 might not have enough power for these speakers, and would probably cut out after a few minutes at really loud volume levels. At lower volumes it would be fine though, if you don't listen to music that loud, or live in an attached house. I'd imagine the Q550 would be ideal though. If looking at floor standing speakers.

I Have an A39 and used some KEF R300’s with it very successfully. So look at the KEF R3’s if book shelf speakers are your preference. If you want to energise your system a bit try some Klipsch rp600’s.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Yes, I forgot about Spendor. Very good speakers. Very warm sounding though could be to much with the Arcam, if they still are as warm last time I used Arcam? I have had the A80, A85. They were very warm sounding, even warmer then Marantz! But only you can decide, we can only give you advices. But if you get a chance try and see if you can hear a pair of Proac speakers. They are very good. As for Tannoy should you wish to buy the XTF8, or its little brother I think the Arcam we’ll suit them fine. I use Tannnoy speakers my self. A bit like Spendor, warm sounding but a bit more drive in the sound. More open in treble. Good luck.
 

Whiskyguy

Standard Member
Many thanks to everyone that has taken time to reply, your input has been very useful. I’ve decided to make out a shopping list of speakers to try once the Coronavirus lock down has been eased. Given that the speakers are probably the most vital aspect of the system I want to make sure they suit the audio profile I’m trying to achieve and are well matched to the Arcam.

I think I’m going with floor standers as I don’t really want to upgrade the sub I have (used for AV).The current B&Ws are ok but don’t like being close to the back wall and have to be driven hard to get the best from them - especially in the low end.

so far I have:

Dali Oberon 7s
Kef Q550 or Q750 (good 20% off deal at the moment!)
MA silver 300 (good reviews, look lovely)
Dynaudio Emit M30
Spendor A2
B&W 603

Right now the KEFs and the MA silvers are at the top of the list mainly because they seem to be well matched with the Arcam and also sit under my £1k budget! Hearing is believing though!

In the meantime taking the plunge on the Rega Planar3. Only question is whether to go with the bundled Elys 2 cartridge (not great feedback online) or upgrade to the Exact or Ortofon 2M blue?

decisions, decisions!!
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I would be tempted by the following -

PMC twenty 22 stand mounts - £1250 brand new. plus £100-200 budget for some stands.


They also take part ex so you may be able to get a few £ for your B&W's.
 

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