Wall Of Sound

Active Member
OK so let's start by saying that prior to my knowledge of Hi-Fi, and like everyone else who was in either middle school or high school around the early 90's, I only had a very basic all in one Aiwa system, the NSX-999. We all had to start somewhere right?

I was in high school and at the time this little midi system was considered big fish between me and my friends. I knew no different and loved it, all the flashy colours and the lit up graphic equalizers in the display, lovely stuff. I loved watching the bass cones flex in and out as I would crank up the sound. I would come home from school every night and one of the first things I would do is listen to CD's on it for hours, this would go on until I started my first job.

Then my work life started.....

I was walking home from work one day and popped into Richer sounds in 1997. This was my first ever step in a hi-fi shop. There was a strong smell of coffee as soon as I stepped in the building, I had no idea what I was doing, all i knew was I liked the look of the separates they had on offer and I had an urge to spend my wages. A richer sounds salesman then asked me if I was OK and whether I wanted any help, I explained I've popped in purely out of curiosity but could I listen to an amplifier and CD player. He was happy to take the amp and CD player into the demo room and it was all linked up to their speakers they had already set up.

The Amp and CD player I demo'ed was the Arcam Alpha 7 integrated amplifier and the Marantz CD63 Special Edition CD player. This was linked up to their Tannoy 638 floor standing speakers, these were well out of my price bracket at the time but looked and sounded fantastic. I tested it out with my Prodigy Poison CD single and Needless to say I was in love with the system compared to my Aiwa. As you probably guessed I walked out with The Arcam and Marantz, they also threw in a free yellow coloured Cambridge Audio Pacific RCA lead, result!

The following week I decided it was time to buy some speakers. I loved the Tannoy's I had heard previously but they were over double what I could afford. When you are young envy is a horrible thing! however I decided to splash the cash on some TDL RTL3 Special Editions. These were my first ever floor-standers and I could not wait to show them off to my mates. It was safe to say I was very happy with this set up for a good few years.

Lets go forward a bit, to around 2006, the system was doing OK, however one day my first ever issue happened. I managed to burn out the treble in one speaker, noooo!! was it because of volume reasons? I had no idea, but I got them repaired regardless. About 6 months later, I did the exact same thing again, but to the other speaker instead this time, Nightmare! Obviously now concerned I decided OK maybe it's time to purchase a new set of speakers.

This time a friend told me about a store called Sevenoaks Sound & Vision. I went in and all of a sudden I was instantly attracted to these yellow coned (at the top) speakers. I had not listened to them, all I knew was I wanted them. The store man let me have a little listen and straight away it was easy to tell these were much better than my TDL's, so I walked out with brand new speakers, these were the B&W 604 S3's. At the time I knew little about amplifier power requirements and speaker sensitivity, so as you can guess the system was extremely boomy because I believe the Arcam was only 40w per channel and it struggled to power these speakers efficiently. Anyone who knows about those 604 S3's will know they need a lot of power to sing. Even so, I still loved using them as I knew the potential of these speakers.

In 2011 however under powering these speakers eventually ruined them, I also learned a valuable lesson. It is better to have an amplifier that has more power than you could need than having an amplifier that under powers them. I paid attention.

I was now stuck with no speakers and frantically thinking what do I do, Do I get them repaired? do I get a new pair? then my mind went into nostalgia mode, I remembered those Tannoys 638's, the things I craved badly for back in 1997. 14 years after first listening to them I decided I would buy a second hand pair. I had to travel about 150 miles to pick them up via an eBay purchase, but I didn't care. 'Please sound how I remember them' that's all I kept thinking to myself on the journey there and back. When I got to the guys house they looked a little worn cabinet wise but the actual speaker cones were mint. I paid the guy £300 and lugged the speakers in the back of my car. Once home I plugged them in, read the manual and instant relief, It confirmed these were a lot easier to power. Anything from 10 watts, hurrah!

I sat down, played my first CD on these speakers and all of a sudden I lost my breath. Wow, I had not heard this kind of clarity before, why was that? was it because the TDL's were not good enough, and the B&W speakers were under powered? probably. I later found out this sound I was experiencing was much better sound stage and holographic 3D imaging. They sounded much better than anything bought before it.

in late 2013 both my amplifier and CD player packed up within a month of each other. I didn't want to get them fixed however. I'd had them both a very long time and decided I would get something new and shiny, so I sold them for parts on e-bay and used the money towards upgrading. That upgrade would come by popping into richer sounds again. They were great with me on my hifi journey so i wanted to use them again but it seemed a little different in there this time, less hi-fi stock than I remembered before, more TV's and sound bars and less separates? slightly disappointing. However the store guy then got my attention and asked if I needed help. Feeling like a newbie still to the hi-fi world I explained what had happened so he took me into the demo room where they had all the separates and speakers, phew!

They got me listening to some up-to date Arcam's, some middle of the range Cambridge Audio's and also Cambridge Audio's flagship model. The flagship model sounded head and shoulders better than my previous set up, it was a huge difference in quality. I asked the price of this system to which I got quoted £2,400. I gulped and double checked that figure with him. £2,400! That's much more than I had ever spent on any Hi-Fi. I was in two minds, what do I do, it sounded fantastic but I didn't realise it was this costly. In the end, the devil won, and I got out the credit card and the rest was history as they say.

I was half happy and half anxious at the same time driving home. I had never put this amount on my credit card before. What I had just bought was the Cambridge Audio Azur 851A/851C Amplifier & CD player combination. I plugged it all in, put on a CD and heard music like I had never heard before. Controlled bass, everything in the sound came through. All of a sudden I was less angry with myself for the credit card purchase.

So we go forward to summer 2014. Given the Amp and CD player was still quite new, I took it upon myself to do some upgrades. Firstly starting with the interconnects. Bare in mind I was using the same leads I got given in 1997 which quite frankly really needed changing, I decided to sell them on eBay and again use the money towards something new. In the end I went with the QED reference Audio 1 RCA's, these were bought on eBay and when I got them through and linked it all up they brought a sonic improvement, It was good controlled bass, but more of it, as well as an extra sparkle to the sound, more mid/treble. it took a week or so to get used to it as it changed the EQ on the sound.

The next thing I decided to upgrade the same summer was the speaker leads, the ones I had in the system were rubbish and I could not even tell you the brand, but because I had just bought some QED interconnects I thought I would use the same brand with speaker leads. In the end I went a little crazy and decided I would go for the QED Genesis silver spiral bi-wires. These were not cheap whatsoever, but I blind bought them anyhow, stupid yes? luckily for me they were far superior than the rubbish I was using previously, but again it took on it's own sound characteristic that seemed to change the EQ of my hi-fi. More bass, and yet more treble again. They sounded quite bright but after a few weeks or so I got used to them and thought I would be contempt for the next 10 plus years. As you can tell, that never happened.....

In late 2015 I was reading all the reviews for the best products in the past 12 months, one brand that stood out as winning awards in every magazine was Roksan. I had never heard of them before, but they were getting awards left right and center. I then went and did something stupid to which I still regret. I sold my Azur 851A and 851C even though I thought it sounded very good to my ears. I managed to nearly get back what I paid for these two items and out of that money I bought the Roksan Caspian M2 integrated amplifier and CD player. It cost me £3800 but when you take away the money I made from the previous kit and others things I had also sold, the actual cost on my card was closer to £1800, just slightly less than I had paid on the card for the previous system. Oddly, I didn't feel as bad about spending that amount of cash this time round.

I now have an award winning system, yes! I am happy. It will outshine my previous kit and as I plugging it in I felt like a teenager all over again. I sat down, played a CD and all of a sudden, I went from feeling like a kid to feeling like an idiot. What was this over powering bass all about, urgh... Way way way to much. I was not happy, something wasn't right. Maybe I plugged in the leads out of phase, what with all my enthusiasm to listen to it. Unfortunately that was not the case, and I could not understand how this combo had won so many awards and got so many accolades, what was the matter with my kit? was it faulty? I tried to live with the sound but it got to much for me in the end. I thought I would give it one more solution before selling, so I did a mini upgrade. I picked up some granite plinths which the speakers which were on spikes were now sitting directly on the plinths. This would help control that vile over-powering bass I'm getting.

Nope, still hated the sound. Damnit! I regretted purchasing it and just wanted to get rid so I decided to sell it on ebay. Another valuable lesson has now been learned.. I am never again blind buying audio equipment, or going off reviews either. From now on only my ears will have the final say on what I like and dislike. I felt so stupid.

Roll on 2016, the Amp and CD player was now sold. Thank god for that.. My torture with that system was over. I'm sure it has it's fans but I really hated the Roksan Caspian M2 Amp/CD combo, it really is for bass heads, and if you turn it up the bass over powers everything else in the sound and the amp struggles to play it all. I managed to get back a fair amount of what i had paid however, so not all was lost.

I looked through a few shops online and decided to plan my next adventure. To my amazement interest free credit was every where with 'pay4later' schemes. Interest free credit had me perked up, no more sticking it on a credit card and paying extra overall. It will cost what it says it costs. It opened up my world to audio equipment I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

In the end I decided to go to a shop called Nintronics, it was a good drive away but they were recommended to me by a colleague. I turned up and they welcomed me into their demo room, sat me down and made me a coffee. We had a little chat about my requirements in terms of the sound signature I was after, once the formalities were over Naim equipment was set up along with speakers by the name of Focal. They were like 9k speakers, wow.. expensive! definitely not affording those, but I listened anyway. For some reason I really did not like the sound of them? all heavy mid range, yet they cost 9k? surely my ears are playing tricks, they should sound amazing. I told the guys no sorry this sound really is not for me, to which they were in agreement that everyone tastes are different and obviously the sound signature from focal isn't for me.

Then all of a sudden they realised they had confused me with another guy that was coming down. He also had Roksan kit previously and hated it, I'm assuming this guy had already upgraded his amp/CD player since it was him that wanted to listen to these 9k Focal's. We laughed at it all and I saw the funny side, easy mistake to make considering we both hated the Roksans, and we were both down on the exact same day.

They then set up the Naim Supernait 2 and linked it up to some B&W 804 D3's. All of a sudden my musical world felt complete, to me this set up sounded amazing. I had not heard anything as good as this before, not by a long stretch! The CD player being used was the Naim CD5 XS and it was all plugged in via 5 pin DIN, not a type of connection I was familiar with.

I knew this amplfier/CD combo was for me, the sound was so powerful, but powerful in an emotional way, i had not felt this involved with music before. Something about it, I cannot put it in words? It's a experience.

The guys at Nintronics were absolutely fantastic as I was there for 3 hours making sure this was what I wanted, and they didn't want me to leave unless I was 100% happy. Not once did I feel rushed. This really helped with my purchase as I got to listen to it all properly, a whole CD near enough with that set up. I'd not had customer service like this before.

I was now the proud owner of a Naim Supernait 2, and Naim CD5 XS. When I got it all home I knew it was not going to sound as good as what i had heard in their demo room because lets be frank, my Tannoy's in their prime were worth about £900? and those speakers I heard were about £6,500. That's a substantial difference both in cost and quality. However it still sounded better than anything I had ever played in my living room. The only gripe I had was the treble. It felt very 'brittle' for want of a better word. Something wasn't quite right with that treble.

I read through the manual and it advised using Naim NAC A5 speaker cables. Hmmm, OK but those cables are cheaper than what I paid for my QED's, they aren't going to sound as good surely? Anyway I popped to a local shop that had them in stock and they let me listen to them, I was surprised as they sounded very good actually, but they were cheaper? how strange. Anyway as you can guess I bought a set, took them home and disconnected the QED's and plugged in the Naim speaker leads.

All of a sudden, it just sounded fantastic. That 'brittle' treble was now gone, everything just sounded so much better. I loved the sonic performance and everything just sounds great to my ears, it has strong bass but nothing overpowering, and nothing takes president, I can hear all the music at all volumes and I find I am losing myself in the music. Sunday I must of had music on for a good 4+ hours. It's easily the most enjoyable system I have ever had at home and I'm now listening to music again as much as I did as a kid.

I also now understand this talk of foot tapping and Amps being 'fast' etc. Previously I put it down to stupid comments as I know CD players will play it at the same speed, so I thought other people were just talking rubbish. I now realise because the music is played so accurately, the bass moves from one note to the other with no 'boom' in between, it's instant, precise, the most precise tight bass I have ever heard, just perfect, and the same with drums, this is why it seems faster, there is no overhang or smear in the sound so gives the illusion that the track feels faster between the bass and drum notes, it also makes it much more enjoyable listening experience. I was literally wow'd the Sunday just gone by my 4+ hours worth of listening.

My music tastes have changed since that kid that walked into richer sounds in 1997 with his Prodigy CD. Electronic music doesn't appeal anymore. Indie/Rock/Accoustic is where my heart is set emotionally. I still love the prodigy though :)

So to get to the end of my journey, and if you aren't asleep already from reading this, the Hi-fi I now have is as follows

Naim Supernait 2 - This is a truely fantastic amplifier
Naim CD5 XS - I saw no need for the more expensive Naim CD player.
Tannoy 638's floor standing loudspeakers
A pair of loaned Chord Shawline 5 Din to 5 Din - lovely sound.
Naim NAC A5 Speaker cables


I cannot stress how important it is to do a lengthy demo when it comes to Hi-Fi. Forget the cost, you have to listen to this system daily so make sure it is right for what you want and don't make the same mistakes i have along my journey, and it has been a very long one at that, but it's one I'm looking forward to completing by winter 2016 if not early 2017 when I buy the B&W 804 D3's. By that point my set up will be worth about 12k. Had you told me I'd have something like that 5 or 6 years ago I would of laughed and said no way man, no way.

I will also be testing out the Naim Hi-Line interconnect in a few days time, and looking into a dedicated Hi-Fi rack/unit. I will come back on my findings of the interconnect on this thread once the Hi-line lead has been tested thoroughly.

I know there will be people with 'better' systems than myself, 'better' being totally subjective of course. We all have a unique sound we crave for with audio. I had to learn this the hard way to finally get what I was after. When I've tailor my income and expenditure into these purchases, I think I've hit the limit at what I could ever afford, and I'm very very happy with the sound!

My only regret now is not taking photos stage by stage of my Hi-Fi evolution.

Once the speakers are purchased it will have taken me approximately 20 years to build this amazing set up and I am happy to have shared it with you guys.

Apologies if this bored anyone, If there are any questions please ask!

Now tell me your Hi-Fi story........... :)
 
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kenm

Member
Not boring, interesting read, but it must have taken you a long time to write. Main reason for posting - Tannoy 638s? These are rarely mentioned anywhere. I have a pair, they are indeed excellent and I paid < £200 for mine. I replaced them with Precision 6.2s, and while I won't say they are overall better than the Precisions, for some types of music they blow the newer speakers away in terms of bass. Big ugly beasts but a lot of money may be needed to get better.
 

Eagle 123

Active Member
Started off with a a Philips radio recorder 22rr644 mono I was just 7 years of age my dad took me to his neighbours place to record some songs. He had a nagra reel to reel was shoeing his system a rack system no idea of make but the sound was loud.

My interest in HiFi started after the mono Philips I had a Pye ghettoblaster my dad worked at mullards so we used to get everything Philips. He always said they make the best stuff they invented the cassette etc.

When the pye died I saved up and got myself a technic rack HiFi system think they were z system.

I upgraded the speakers to mission Cyrus and upgraded the cassette deck to a technics az6.
Even bought a Philips CD player CD 604 a poverty spec model with no remote.
After a while upgraded the amp to a marantz pm 66se and a marantz CD recorder Dr 6000

Speakers were tannoy mx3 floor standing as I sold the mission Cyrus's.

With the marantz sound wise it sounded detailed airy with a midrange but not much grunt as the low end was lacking.
When you crank up the volume it tends to harden up
So upgraded the amplifier and CD player to a roksan Kandy l3.
The marantz CD recorder and amp bought died one after another.
The CD recorder laser died and the marantz amp would not switch on.
I also bought the kef r700 and was really impressed with sound.
It had the grunt low end and a delicate sweet treble with a midrange which was superior to the tannoys speakers.

The last upgrade I had was change the interconnects to chord chameleons and bought myself a teac nt503 DAC network thing.

Speaker cables are QED silver. Oh the technics az6 died as well so bought a nakamichi dr3 from eBay .

My only wish list is to get proper HiFi stands as I got a cheapo Argos stand sitting on them
 

bluedroog

Well-known Member
I started by ogling graphic equalisers, Jamo bass bins and multi CD changers in the back of catalogues around the same time I decided the bra section was better than the toys.

At about 13 I connived my mum to take me to Sevenoaks Hi-Fi for a demo, I had some money and even though she thought it was a waste I had saved it and could spend it as I pleased. The demo was Arcam Alpha gear and a huge range of speakers,first off were the Acoustic Energy AE109, Ocean Colour Scene, Riverboat song in, press play...Wow that bass guitar had me hooked from the first note.

I left with the Arcam Alpha 8 amp I came for and I was away.....my mum in her ultimate wisdom of me wasting money left with three Arcam boxes and a pair of Ruark Icons which she still uses to this day.

Over the years I added the CDP and some cheapo Gale speakers from RSounds. On my 18th birthday I ipgraded to B&W 602 S2s.

I then spend many years distracted by surround sound, got a Denon 3805 and boxed up the Alpha 8 and had speakers everywhere.

After some years I got the old Arcam out, hooked it up and realised I'd been missing out, I had a cull and switched back to two channels.

I then about slowly upgrading my whole system. First was usability, a SBT. Then I went pre and power route with a Croft 25 valve pre-amp and Quad 909, I used to think of it as the iron fist in a velvet glove. The plan was to get upstream sorted ready for a speaker upgrade as the final bit.

I considered the likes of ATC SCM19s and PMC Twent 22s, I wanted a large standmount with good quality. In the meantime I sarted to have my head turned by active speakers but could quite accept this route would mean a bit of a waste of time going to route I had.

To my system now, my favourite purchase to date, my Event Opal active monitors, I used the Croft for a while but as I have an M-DAC with volume tried it direct and preferred it. The DAC is a little digital sounding but given I don't feel I need an active pre in this context I'm now looking at getting an LDR passive pre and a DDDAC 1794 which I think will be me set for a few years.
 

Wall Of Sound

Active Member
Not boring, interesting read, but it must have taken you a long time to write. Main reason for posting - Tannoy 638s? These are rarely mentioned anywhere. I have a pair, they are indeed excellent and I paid < £200 for mine. I replaced them with Precision 6.2s, and while I won't say they are overall better than the Precisions, for some types of music they blow the newer speakers away in terms of bass. Big ugly beasts but a lot of money may be needed to get better.

They are indeed excellent, for it's time I think they were one of the best speakers around up to 1K in the floor standing market. I was quite content to part £300 for a second hand pair.

It's going to take me 6.5K to get noticeably better speakers. I could get a slight upgrade for less than that but I always think with speakers you need to hear a clear step up in quality to make it truly worthwhile. Part of me wants to hear how good their Definition range is, as I have yet to hear one. There is something quite lovely about the dual concentric sound and it's a pity more people don't audition Tannoy's
 

GW43

Well-known Member
but as I have an M-DAC with volume tried it direct and preferred it. The DAC is a little digital sounding

Sorry to hi-jack the thread a tad, but does the M-DAC have the option for the pre-amp stage to be analogue rather than digital? I have the Audiolab 8200DQ, and that has the option, and whilst the manual says digital is likley to sound better, I prefer analogue.
 

bluedroog

Well-known Member
I'm not sure what you mean, as in analogue pass through? The attenuation is done in the digital domain, it does a pretty go job but it will cut bits from the signal which could degrade in the lower reaches. Something like the NAD M51 gets around this by having additional bits effectively giving it headroom to use, I've not tried it though.

The M-DAC is a good little unit with a great feature set, for the money it is a real Swiss army knife item to build a system around.

It really depends how anal you are of how revealing your system is. I am always trying to get more from mine, some of the hype surrounding the M-DAC is way over the top, it is a little digital sounding to me and I favour using a passive pre now and will add one next pay day.
 

Wall Of Sound

Active Member
My only wish list is to get proper HiFi stands as I got a cheapo Argos stand sitting on them

Whilst my wish is the same, I've not actually heard the musical benefits of a dedicated rack, mainly because I've never owned one, but it is something I will be putting right in due course.

It does help that I like the look of those acoustic HiFi stands so worst case everything will look neater and nicer all set up, and best case it, sounds better too! I keep reading it will help dynamics etc of which I'm quietly confident it will, but as always my ears will have the final say on that once purchased.

I've read the R and reference range are very good from KEF at both price points, and that it's similar technology to what my speakers have with the dual concentric system, so chances are if I like Tannoy I'd also like KEF speakers too with their Uni-Q tech.
 

Wall Of Sound

Active Member
I've now used the Naim Hi-Line interconnect long enough to feel comfortable with it, and write an update. Compared to the Chord Shawline which I was being loaned, the upgraded Naim Hi-Line is definitely the more expensive. As you might expect though, quality prevails. That's not to say it's streets ahead of the Shawline, but there is a difference between the two. Some of which is subtle, some not to much.

The Chord Shawline For the money is a good lead, however compared to the Hi-Line it does tend to 'smooth' the sound out somewhat. Nothing will come across harsh to your ears, but nothing about it pushes the system to what it could achieve either. It does a very good job of making all music sound good, not too airy, and not to closed in either.

With the Naim Hi-Line the biggest difference that became apparent straight away more that anything else were how voices sounded, it was almost as though it was pushing through extra resolution. I heard the voices with the feeling as though the singer was in the same room. This was not a subtle difference, but quite a big difference and one I welcomed as it made the listening experience more enjoyable.

Oddly, given the new 'resolution' as I'm calling it, you'd think this would make bad records sound worse? Incorrect, if anything this actually aided bad recordings and made them sound better. I was also hearing subtle differences too, hi-hats for instance on drums sounded crisper and less splashy and all the little sounds within the record were more accessible to my ears, it slightly closed up the 3D soundstage and made it a touch more 'infront' however not enough to notice unless you are extremely picky. Given the gains you get elsewhere with this lead it's definitely worth that minor sacrifice

The Chord Shawline DIN retails around £225. The Naim Hi-Line retails around £725

Is it worth £500 extra? probably not. But it IS a better sounding and more 'Hi-Fi' lead, and that will be apparent quite quickly if you were to audition both. I managed to find one for £300 in fantastic condition. Is it worth the extra £75 doing it this way? absolutely!

Those that say interconnects make no difference are talking nonsense. Doing both open and blind testing it was obvious to me straight away which was the shawline and which was the Hi-Line. The vocal definition and presentation alone was easy to spot.
 
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AndyC_772

Active Member
Not sure I've ever given this any thought before, but...

I remember one of my first ever Christmas presents was a cassette player. I was about 4 or 5 at the time. It was joined by a portable radio later on, and they were only superseded by a Matsui Midi 35 about ten years later.

It was an awful, plasticky (both in build quality and in sound) machine, but it was stereo, and had an input on the back that I could plug my (modified) BBC micro into, or use to (slightly) improve the sound from a cast-off VHS machine I had in my bedroom. Eventually I saved up for the cheapest CD player I could find, a Cathay CD2037, which was an equally terrible sounding piece of kit, and so a great match for my other gear.

At least it meant I was able to start a music collection that would last. My first CD was Iron Maiden's "No Prayer for the Dying", which I recall didn't go down well with one or two members of my extended family. How sad (for them).

Then I left school, got a summer job, and was able to start upgrading. The speakers were first to go, replaced with a pair of TDL Near Field Monitors which I still have, despite blowing the tweeters at a party a few years later. They don't fill large rooms well, it turned out, but the tweeters were cheap and readily available, so they're none the worse for their ordeal.

The TDLs were soon joined by a Technics SU-A600 amp, which I also still have and use every day. It's 20 years old now and still works flawlessly. The same can't be said for the Matsui.

The CD player died, and was replaced by a Technics portable, which sounded great compared to what it replaced, and was convenient to take to university compared to a full sized box. It was also joined by an Aiwa ADF-450 tape deck, described by the sales assistant as the only decent product Aiwa ever made. I didn't disagree.

Not long afterwards, I sold a collection of old Transformers comics(!) and bought a pair of ex-demo Monitor Audio MA800 gold speakers with the proceeds. These are still in daily use today too.

Around the same time I met the woman who was to become my wife. For a birthday I bought her a system consisting of an SU-A600 mk2, a Technics CD changer, another ADF-450 and a pair of Mission 731 speakers. (We still use that amp to power a ceiling speaker in the bathroom, and the 731's are the rear channels in our home cinema. We sold the tape deck, and the CD changer is taking up space, unused.)

I graduated, got a full time job, and we bought a DVD player and a TV with a Pro-logic decoder. Somehow we managed to combine the equipment we had to achieve surround sound.

Then, I found myself in the right place at the right time during the .com bubble, and was finally able to upgrade properly. I bought some Monitor Audio Studio 20SE speakers, a Yamaha DSP-A1, a REL Storm III, a B&W CC6 S2 centre speaker and a Loewe TV. A few DVD players came and went, and the TV is now a plasma, but the rest of that gear is what we've been using ever since. It's been about 15 years now.

Last week I finally read the manual for the REL, and got it set up and positioned correctly. It sounds way better than it ever has done before.

All that is about to change. I have an Arcam AVR550, one pair of Spendor D7 and two pairs of D1 speakers on the way, which will mean I finally have a surround system in which everything matches. I'm even getting some proper speaker cable!

I'll use a single D1 as a centre channel, two as rears and one spare, but perhaps if there's ever a D-series centre produced, I'll get that and use the extra D1's to go 7.1. At last, I have a plan, and maybe my next upgrade won't have to wait another 15 years.

I suspect, though, that by then I'll have reached the point where the quality of my hi-fi exceeds that of my ears, and upgrades won't be relevant any more...
 
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Eagle 123

Active Member
Latest update
Well Xmas came early I managed to get the HiFi stands of my dreams.
Its a Atacama evoq special edition in dark bamboo colour.
The rack is 4 shelves high after setting it up took me 2 hours of assembling the rack I was impressed by the level of attention of isolating vibration and noise.
After binning the cheap Argos glass rack I had and spending serious money on a rack, I played some music.
First few secs heh it sounds different the music flows like a river where this is where the interesting thing is I could hear different individual instruments now the old rack you could hear the dominant instrument and everything gets drowned.

I was thinking its a placebo affect but then turned on another CD some old 60s English pop songs Manfred Mann I enjoyed the music as the rack has isolated the noise vibrations also I cut new bare wire speaker cables they were oxidised the cables are QED silver anniversary.
Now the amp I have a Kandy l3 o detected that it's got a characteristic sound slightly warm but not too bloomy.
The QED silver balanced it out counter acting the warmth of the Kandy.

I would suggest that having a decent rack will change the sound of your equipment.
 

Eagle 123

Active Member
uploadfromtaptalk1470879893116.jpg
 

Wall Of Sound

Active Member
I treated myself to a modest little upgrade. This Monday night just gone, and thanks to Nintronics staying open late for me, I picked up a pair of Tannoy Definition DC8Ti's in gloss black.

Not sure what that 5th terminal is all about, and whether it makes an iota of difference? but either way I'm running them in slowly as we speak.

Only just managed to fit them in my Scirocco, well, the owner did! I was sure they weren't going to fit when I saw the size of the boxes! but luckily his know-how is better than mine.

I will probably keep them for about 6-12 months as they will have a much better sell on value compared to my previous speakers and then decide after that what to go for.

I have a nice short list for next time, it's just a matter of getting them all listened to again

It's good ol' fun, this Hi-Fi game.
 
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Ballistic

Active Member
It will take me to long to narrate my HiFi journey, plus I can't remember all of the model numbers for the various kit I've had.

This is what I've learnt along the way;
1) Kit demo’d in a HiFi shop can sound different to when you get it home.
After many disappointments, I now won't buy anything without a home demo first.
Fortunately I now work with a great HiFi store, not local by any means, who are very accommodating in this respect.
2) Get a well-balanced system. The overall sound quality will always be limited by the weakest link.
3) Good quality, not necessarily the most expensive, interconnects and speaker cables make a big difference.
4) A good quality rack to mount the gear on also makes a big difference.
I too went from a cheap Argos glass shelf rack to a bamboo Atacama Evoque unit - money well spent.
5) Speaker positioning and toe-in/out makes a huge difference as to how they perform.
6) Don’t always go on the advice of the salesperson or reviews – let your ears be the judge.

I was quite happy with what I had, until I made the fatal mistake of listening to something better. It wasn't until I started to look around and see what else was out there that I realised how narrow minded I'd been.

I now stream (Flac) music as my first choice, with cd as a backup, as after making comparisons, I'm of the belief that a lossless rip sounds better than the same track on a cd.

I still use the amp and speakers from my first HiFi system, connected to my pc for ripping music. At the time I thought the first system that I put together sounded the bee’s knees, but when compared to what I have now, it's like comparing a Trabant to a F1 car!
 
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PiperCub

Banned
Your post simpleguyshifi was very well written and I enjoyed reading a post by someone very enthusiastic about hi fi. thank you. Here is my 2 channel story if it isn't too boring, and hopefully readers get a sense of my enthusiasm for hi fi too.

My hi fi journey started with a Phillips all in one tape to tape deck with 25w speakers from the 80s and I remember I used to love doing tapes for my friends. With the advent of cd I added a Sony CD player which I linked up to it. I remember thinking that my system had really gone up in the world with cd and it certainly sounded better than tape.

I can't remember what happened to it but I must have sold it, but recently I retrieved the Sony CD player from my dads loft. It looks 'chunky' to say the least.

In my student days I visited richer sounds and with the proceeds of some Leeds bank share sales (when they went to Halifax I think), I remember buying some Sony ss-86e speakers (which I still have) which I then hooked up to the trusted Sony CD player and I also added a Sony stereo amp. The sound was capable of being loud and pleased me with quality improvements certainly better than the Phillips. I always remember my live in landlord asking me to turn it down.

I replaced the sonys with tannoy mercury m3's, which I actually bought in richer sounds too in 1997. They looked great with cherry fronts and black sides and backs. I later gave them to my brother in law but kept them all the way until 2010. From owning them I, I also actually bought an arcam alpha 7 CD player (again from richer sounds). This was probably a first foray into audiophile kit but sadly it didn't have great 2 channel amps with it as I got into home cinema when I started working and bought a succession of Sony, Yamaha and onkyo home cinema amps, the most expensive being an onkyo one around a grand. These suited a 5.1 system with the tannoys for filling sound in a room.

I decided in 2010 to see what new speakers were like so I went to richer sounds and trialed a pair of tannoy dc6t's SE's. Hearing what they could do in the shop with well raved about Cyrus electronics (6dac intergrated with dac, and cd-t cd transport) I ended up spending around a grand for the tannoys, then a few weeks later £1300 for the cyrus pairing which was on offer. I immediately loved the spaciousness of the tannoy sound. I couldn't quite believe that sound quality could improve so much on the m3's which whilst at a lower price point new in the 90s to the dc6t's, the dcs were clearly in a league above. These speakers really got me on my audiophile journey and in rekindling a love of listening to music faithfully reproduced. I didn't really know that electronics could make a huge difference and the cyrus kit then was relatively basic, so I thought the sound improvement was mainly in the speakers.

I then decided to upgrade the cyrus electronics to see what more I could get out of the tannoys and to my surprise I got a lot more. I had heard then a lot about the cyrus sound and it's detail, dynamics and musicality but largely I fell into a cyrus upgrade path to see what future upgrades could bring.

I bought a £1000 cyrus x power power amplifier, tried to bi amp the speakers and then used the 6dac as a pre amp and the x power as power amp of course. I then added a used £250 cyrus psx-r power supply to the x power which didn't make a huge difference. In cyrus half width boxes this power supply takes over certain aspects of the circuits in cyrus integrated, pre amp and CD player boxes etc, to improve aspects of the sound. At this point I thought I'd reached a zenith of sound quality, but now I was hooked and on the audiophile journey even more when a dealer suggested an upgrade. I wasn't quite happy with the detail of the tannoys. I was introduced to a game changer in my system at least......PMC!!!

So in 2012 at various dealers I trialed pmc 20 23s which fit the small quality floorstanders bracket, of a speaker that gets the most from its size. They were probably the best speakers in this class and price around 2012. They also really fitted in with my home environment and desire for a speaker that isn't massively huge on bass, but has all the exploits of music that make it so enjoyable, for instance detail and dynamics.

I just could not believe the step up, admittedly now £2400 speakers and over double the tannoys price. Just more resolution clearly but the dynamics of music is what makes music real, the differences between high and low volume parts of notes and parts of a track. These pmc's have these dynamics in spades. The smoothness of the bass in these speakers and punchiness made them very appealing too.

So now whilst I had a seriously good hi fi, the pmc's clearly needed better drive to only a 70w x power and not using a proper pre, which I was advised would really improve things. I changed the 6dac to a £1500 Cyrus pre Qx dac pre amp. It came with the better Qx dac for greater resolution. I had listened to Cyrus higher end systems and really got on board with this ideal of detail resolution, dynamics and realism above anything else, which is a trademark cyrus quality, plus quite good value relative to brands like naim etc, and more than up to naim standards. If you think of it music stripped bare is the detail, rhythm and you can't really replicate the bass at home of a concert hall. It doesn't mean it's less endearing and I really got on with this cyrus sound. Immediately the sound was thinner with the pre but the dealer commented it's only because I'd been using the 6dac as the pre and it was probably creating a boomy sound with too much oomph in its guts against the smaller power supply of a dedicated pre. The bass was more stop startey and dynamic too and there was more resolution on offer.

I then added a new £500 new psx-r power supply to the pre Qx dac and got very good improvements in detail. It didn't quite have the speration and imaging of some systems and I thought should I add another x power. You can flip a switch at the back of x powers and use them as monoblocks. I did this taking power to 140w per channel. This was a huge step up with this imaging mainly and I then sold the used psx-r power supply I didn't need.

I got into streaming with a £250 sonos Connect and then put all music into a nas drive and then bought a £1k cyrus stream x2 which had much improved sq but not as good value as the sonos (I later upgraded the x2 to a cyrus stream x signature for £300).

I then wanted to see what more the pmc's could do and in 2015 I made a huge change to cyrus mono x200 signature power amps. At £2k each new, certainly not cheap, i managed to get a new pair half price just as cyrus made them obsolete, and whilst the x300 signature is the currently available model but basically the same amp with more power. The x200s being more than enough to drive my pmc's I trialed them in audio t. I trusted they would improve the sound and ended up buying the half price pair on mail order. Now these amps were transformational. So much fluidity, detail, dynamics and clarity outclassing the x powers by some margin.

Not needing my x powers I sold both and bought a used cyrus dac x signature for £500 in early 2016. This is a standalone signature dac which I paired up to my pre Qx dac, using the dacs in the dac x sigs box. Twin 32 bit dacs and a good improvement, not nearly as good as the mono x200s however. Now was a touch of luck in actually getting my next upgrade half price too.

Since I had effectively a signature system nearly I had the dac x signature upgraded to a dac xp signature, which is the same dacs but adding a pre stage, so I could then sell my pre Qx dac (which did the same job). The dac x sig was originally £1750 but as it was obsolete when I bought it used I got a huge discount in used terms. Now the upgrade to dac xp sig cost me £1k and when cyrus gave me the unit they gave me a new box upgrade i.e. New box and internals. The new unit of these are £3k and I effectively got one for £1500 (£500 plus £1k). I was very lucky indeed.

This dac xp signature was transformational too, so much insight and clarity and the way the stereo imaging allowsmusic shifts between the speakers. A dual mono fully balanced design with 32 bit dacs and balanced circuits I bought chord tuned array signature xlr cables between pre and power amps which exploited the balanced circuitry and I actually did hear differences in sq between the rca version of the cable and it's xlr sibling, so I had my rca signature cables upgraded to xlr variants.

I also went through lots of different chord cables and had started off with atlas which I didn't like. The epic speaker cables truly changed the sound and I did try the qed silver spiral genesis speaker cables you did but they were not as bass /treble balanced in my system to the epics. I also tried the naim Naca5 which again were not as bass/treble balanced. I find I do very much like a balanced sound with bass and treble to get the clarity and have found dynamics tend to go hand in hand between a good copper and silver cable and have found chord cables work extremely well with cyrus above the flatter sound of qed/naim naca5/atlas and some old talk cables I have plus bog standard richer sounds cables etc. I do know lots of people don't like any hint of treble and edginess but I think it's a bit of a trade off in a system, and my pmc's are certainly not bright in overall balance and smooth enough to make any treble detail, when it comes in at times, not being burdensome

I then upgraded the epics to epic reference and bought anthem and clearway digital cables sometime before too. So all chord cables.

My last upgrade was before Xmas where I bought pmc 25-23 speakers and a huge step up again was had in bass punchiness, mid range clarity and just levels of detail and realism, also soundstage. I just couldn't stop myself when I heard the huge improvements when listening to the speakers at a dealer. The pair I bought ended up getting damaged slightly by the courier so a few weeks ago I had pmc's tom Barron (uk sales manager) deliver me a new pair to my place. I was actually able to select the walnut pair with the best graining from the factory, with tom sending me pictures in advance. He even stopped to help me set them up and packed away the damaged pair. Great service.

It really is amazing that such a system can transform your listening experience and make listening to music often a spiritual experience such is the quality of my current set up. I don't think I'll change for a while now as I can't think there can be many systems that beat it at this price and for own pleasure I get from it. It's hugely rewarding to listen to music as it should sound and is a life affirming experience. I shrug my shoulders when people don't see value in this type of hi fi for these reasons. It's clearly expensive but for me it's been a worthwhile journey.
 

Wall Of Sound

Active Member
We've had a similar journey it seems, along a similar timeline!

Intriguing about the PMC's as that's actually on the shortlist this summer, along with another listen to the fantastic B&W 804 D3's. I'm enjoying running in the Tannoy Definition range for the time being though, with the port bungs in.

Reference your speaker cables, seems you got on well with Chord, was it the Epic twin speaker cable, or was it the Chord Epic Reference? I take it you just got more detail with that particular lead?

either way interesting read, although I don't believe you when you said you won't change for a while.. You will :) it's impossible not to when you have the bug!
 

PiperCub

Banned
Hi simpleguyshifi, Thanks for your reply. I started using chord epic twin on my 20-23s but then went to chord epic reference which I've carried over to my 25-23s. The epic twin was much better value and epic reference less so, but a good improvement on the epic twin. A very good sound indeed.
When Tom Barron of pmc (uk sales manager) delivered my 25-23s last week, he told me he uses epic reference with his home pmc fact 8s and they are very popular with pmc on all accounts.
I'm sure your tannoys are well good enough but if you do listen to pmc's, maybe the twenty5 24 is in your bracket, or 25-26.
I maybe wouldn't be looking at newer speakers but improvements to amplification with your set up, as with £5k speakers and a £3k amp I'm sure you'd eek more out of the tannoys with better amplification. I'm much the other way round, with better quality amps to speakers but the pmc's are more than good enough for me, suit the room etc as I say, and I suspect get close to speakers in the £4K class, if not as good, given how good they sound and as a new PMC design. Happy listening.
 

Wall Of Sound

Active Member
Personally freed myself from the HIFI world and gone pro. Whilst with hifi there is always "something better" (in other words: nothings actually that good), I have found professional equipment to amaze me to the point that I cannot imagine better. Particularly with speaker design, there is no excuse for them to be still passive with all the issues a passive crossover brings.

I like to quite German image hifi on the issue:

“…refrain from the baublery with power amplifiers and loudspeaker cables. Thus with active configurations alone one can expand into the very best reproduction of music. No driver, as perfect as it may be, can give back what the passive crossover network takes away from the signal.”

Dave

Easy tiger :laugh:
 

lindsayt

Active Member
My hi-fi journey started when my classical music loving oldest brother decided to blow a large part of his student grant on a hi-fi system. He bought a couple of copies of What Hi-fi and Hi-fi Answers for guidance and left them around for anyone to read.

His first system was Dual 505, NAD 3020, AR17's.

On reading his hi-fi magazines I discovered that I could get a better system than him if I went for Rega or Linn.


In 1983, whilst in the Lower Sixth, I had a warchest of £750, thanks to some will money from my grandad, saving my birthday present money and getting compensation from getting mugged (beaten up) on the bus on the way home from school.

I spent 2 afternoons at a local Linn dealer and bought an LP12, Basik LVX, Rega R100, Creek CAS 4040, Heybrook HB1's.

In the early 1990's the Valhalla went to Valhalla. So I upgraded to a Lingo, Cirkus, Ittok LVIII, and replaced the R100 with a Linn K9. All bought brand new from a Linn dealer.


As far as I was concerned at that time; Linn was the best and GIGO. I'd also always had the ambition to buy a full on LP12, Ittok, Asak, Naim 32.5 NAP250, Isobarik system, because that system, according to Popular Hi-fi, was the best in the world...
 

PiperCub

Banned
My 25-23 speakers being made in pmc's factory. I chose the right pair with a bit better graining I thought.
 

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Wall Of Sound

Active Member
Hi simpleguyshifi, Thanks for your reply. I started using chord epic twin on my 20-23s but then went to chord epic reference which I've carried over to my 25-23s. The epic twin was much better value and epic reference less so, but a good improvement on the epic twin. A very good sound indeed.
When Tom Barron of pmc (uk sales manager) delivered my 25-23s last week, he told me he uses epic reference with his home pmc fact 8s and they are very popular with pmc on all accounts.
I'm sure your tannoys are well good enough but if you do listen to pmc's, maybe the twenty5 24 is in your bracket, or 25-26.
I maybe wouldn't be looking at newer speakers but improvements to amplification with your set up, as with £5k speakers and a £3k amp I'm sure you'd eek more out of the tannoys with better amplification. I'm much the other way round, with better quality amps to speakers but the pmc's are more than good enough for me, suit the room etc as I say, and I suspect get close to speakers in the £4K class, if not as good, given how good they sound and as a new PMC design. Happy listening.

It's a tough one when looking at what to do first, but granted at the point of buying the 804 D3's later this year, I will also be looking into the pre-power route to get the maximum high fidelity that I can

Luckily for me the re-sale value on the Naim will be very good, if I end up going down the Naim pre-power route, and likewise with the speakers, as I'll get close back to what i paid for the Tannoy's with the shop's trade in scheme.

Love the fact you are actually seeing your speakers being built by the way!
 

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