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Got the Marantz, got the Quads, got the Chords, now what?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by _Cal_, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. _Cal_

    _Cal_
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    Over the past 6 months I've been enjoying my first AV/hifi system (after car stereo, and Techinics midi), and I'm looking out for opinions on where to go from here (if anywhere) in term of audio listening pleasure (quality for some).

    Maybe I'm reaching here, but I believe that there must be something else out there in terms of listening pleasure.

    I've tried several systems in several stores/homes, from Pioneer VSXD814 + Wharfedale 9.5, Denon 1804 + AE Evo 3 to Rotel stereo separates + Quad 12L and from all the ones I've tried, there was only one where I thought to myself ... "Damn, this sounds like hot chocolate in a cold winter night", if you know what I mean. This was when I auditioned a Katana CD player + Marantz 9300 AV receiver + AE Evo 3! The rest (other systems) was just music (which is not bad, but I can just listen to music in my car).

    My system is the following:

    DVD player: Pioneer DV575
    AV receiver: Marantz SR7400
    Front speakers: Quad 12L (remaining speakers will be probably be Quad 21L and centre)
    Speaker cable: biwired Chord Carnival Silver
    Analog interconnects: Chord Cobra 3
    Digital interconnect: QED P75

    If I close my eyes, I cannot distinguish between the analog (cobra 3) and digital (qed p75) connections between player and amp.

    The room is 4m long x 7.5m wide (30m^2), wooden floor. The listening position occupies the left square of this almost 2 by 1 room, and the left (4m) wall is mostly glass (shades still to come). The remainder of the system is a Panasonic 42PA50 connected with QED PCV1 to the DVD player, but this post refers to the audio part.

    The music sounds good, but I'm looking for thrill and excitement instead.

    I listen to all kinds of music, but bass kick is not a priority. I believe I'm much more sensitive to voices and piano notes.

    What can I do, without having to sell the house and mortgage the kids future wages?
     
  2. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Hi Cal,
    That Glass wall will be a bit interesting. You may need to take a look at some 'room treatment' soft furnishings, wall hangings, that type of thing. I'm no expert on this so I won't go into detail.
    To concentrate on your system. I would keep the DV575 and add an external NOS DAC to the system. I go on about these but they are excellent value and very modable (If there is such a word and you're into that kind of thing) Run a search on the net and you'll pull up all kinds of useful info.
    If you are looking at the Quad 21L's you won't go far wrong.
    The problem is in your amplification. The marantz just won't do music justice. Unfortunately there's not much in the AV amp range that will until you get into the high end.
    Best you could do is use the Marantz as a Pre amp and add a power amp to power the front speakers. Something like a Rega Exon or for a bit more an Exposure 3010 power amp.
    Total cost even new (inc DAC) would be less than £1000. Second hand probably £600.
    The weak link would still be the Marantz but you would have (Probably) acceptable 2 channel playback.
    The only real way to do it is have a dedicated 2 channel system. Everything else is a compromise. Question is: How much of one?
    HTH
     
  3. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Cal, in every instance you have mentioned above that you are listening to an AV reciever to play back CDs. Quite simply this what is hindering your enjoyment of CDs. You need a stereo amplifier of some config in your system , and I would be adding a DAC to the 575 too FWIW. PS Don’t fanny around too much with cabling, get decent kit in, and stop worrying about plain ole copper. As long as your using shielded ICs (you are) and a major step up from bellwire (you are) forget worrying about cables.

    Your kit is what is hindering CD playback for music. Especially the amplification and DVD player.

    Stereo amp + DAC.
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I'd have to agree with CJROSS....AV systems usually do the task they were designed for much better than straight music playback,and even more so when DVD players are used for CD playback.

    If you want to enjoy music more,you should look at investing a bit on the stereo side of your system,and his advice is a very good place to start.
     
  5. _Cal_

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    Thanks for your suggestions guys. I'll consider them as soon as the budget allows, but I must confess I am a bit sceptical ... to believe that dedicated stereo is the only way to go. I'll believe it (or not) when I hear it.

    Right now, I'm more concerned with the matching of the amp and speakers, because next I want to complete the surround set-up, and buy 1 center and 2 more speakers.

    The question is: if I am to keep the Marantz (which I am), should I (i) stick to Quad and get a pair of 11L (and keep the 12L as fronts) or (ii) get a pair of 21L (and use the 12L as rears) or (iii) go somewhere else and either use the 12L as rears (which is a waste) or transfer them to another room where I want to set up a second system in the future.

    A friend of mine who is also interested in hi-fi/av mentioned that the sound of my system striked him as typical Marantz: clean but very laid back, and that it basically lacks some "in your face" feeling.

    Should I consider for example something in Monitor Audio silver (now RS) range instead?!
     
  6. DeeeKaaY

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    I was always frustraited with the musical ability of my multichannel system. I was using my yamaha surround amp and sony dvd player to listen to music. The result was thin and uninspiring. I purchased a stereo amplifier (rotel ra02 £350 new) and the sound was a massive improvement. Also, buying a dedicated cd player made a big difference but not as much as the amp.
    I plugged the preouts from the yamaha into some of the rotel inputs, meaning i could use the rotel to power my front speakers for movies and only use the yamaha for centre, surrounds and sub.
    Eventually I realised that I spend a lot more time listening to music than watching movies and so I upgraded my stereo equipment while keeping my existing home cinema for just that, cinema.
    Regarding cables, I recently had a home demo of 5 speaker cables (naim, proac, qedX2 and chord) as well as 4 interconnects (chord, van den hull, qed and mark grant). I found some differences in sound quality but it was small.
    So my suggestion... demo a stereo amp and dedicated cd player, then have a look for some second hand bargains.

    re: speakers, my suggestion would be..
    (ii) get a pair of 21L (and use the 12L as rears)

    I have a friend using quad 21L fronts and 12L rears and it sounds fantastic, but he only uses the 21Ls for music, stereo only- as it was recorded.
    enjoy!
    dk
     
  7. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    CAL

    You can stick your fingers in your ears for as long as you want but messing around with multi-channel loudspeaker tonal imbalances is NOT going to produce a decent HiFi out of your AV System :)

    What's to be sceptical about? You say your self you've heard one 'killer' system and it was fronted by a CD player and Driven by a Stereo Amplifier - I don't think anyone need say much more than re visit the CD Player/HiFi amp combination and 'hear' again what your AV System will never deliver.

    If, like the rest of us, your working to a budget and want a dual system (HiFi and AV) I'd forgo a Centre Speaker and put the money into a decent small HiFi amp to drive your front pair and look at how to integrate that with the AV Receiver for Multi-channel duties too.

    Then add a CD player for music playback.

    Keep in mind:

    Source > Amplification > Loudspeakers - you cant make loudspeakers sound good with a poor source and or amplification!

    Best regards

    Joe
     
  8. _Cal_

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    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your post. I just wanted to reiterate that that particular killer system was not using a stereo amp, but an A/V receiver (Marantz SR9300).

    I did listen to a Rotel stereo system (something like 1062 or 1072, not sure) and I did not find it more exciting than anything else I've hear before.

    The CD player vs DVD player battle is also another thing that puzzles me. I cannot think of a reason why a DVD player cannot be made to be as good as a CD player, for only a marginal increase in cost.

    The difference between a high-end DAC (chip) and a low-end DAC is what 1-2 Euros? Can't you power down 3 DACs and let only the other one run? Why would a clock generator in a CD player be less jittery than in a DVD player, because of the logos in the front panel? ;-)

    I do have a dedicated Sony CD player that costed about 250Eur (not to me) a few years back and a Pioneer 575 DVD player and guess what, I cannot say for sure that I notice any difference between the two. The CD player loads and starts playing the CD infinitely faster than the DVD, and that's just about the only significant difference I can write about.

    People say hearing is believing, and I say that often believing is hearing! (Not saying that this is the case, but often is)
     
  9. Scott_Mac

    Scott_Mac
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    Simple buy a Naim Nait 3R from eBay for about £300... use it as the pre amp for the front speakers... then when in stereo (CD) music you'll only be using that... use the Tape Loop into the existing AV amp to provide multi channel audio when watching films etc (this is exactly as i do, except i only have a processor - Yamaha DSP-E800)

    Personally i don't think much of the Quad speakers, but that doesn't mean they aren't suited for you... however regardless of system, matching speakers across the front axis is crucial, so at least get a Quad speaker for the front... having a match all round makes sense, but it is far less important than the fronts. So either go for some dipole rears to add a bit of oomph, or something wall mountable (Dynaudio Aucience 42W being my faves)
     
  10. Falp

    Falp
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    Hi Cal!

    As I told you before I prefer bookshelf speakers to floorstanders...

    I would advise you to: Get a good and musical sub (REL Quake, Stampede or Strata III/V or MJ Ref 100, 150, 200, Ref 1), it enhances all aspects of impact, body and even midrange...
    Get a good stereo power amp, my suggestion, the new EAR@ 202:

    http://www.acoustic-reality.com/contact.asp

    http://forumhifi.com/board/index.php/topic,330.0.html
    http://forumhifi.com/board/index.php/topic,313.msg3555.html#msg3555
    http://forumhifi.com/board/index.php/topic,337.msg3564.html#msg3564
     

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