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Need help sizing CA Int amp for Totem Arro

Rikizzy

Standard Member
Hello,

I've never really spent any real money on a stereo system, been using an old second hand Sherwood integrated amp with some Wharferdale 7.2 special edition bookshelves with a sub.

I was thinking of replacing the speakers for some Totem Arro's and pairing them with a CA 640a/640c amp and cdp. My room is about 14'x16'x9' (2000cu-ft). Serious listenning will be mostly jazz, blues and classical, but casual listening will be a bit of everything (TV, radio, pop, clasic rock, ipod,...)

My question is, is the CA 640a enough or should I go all the way and spend double the amount for the CA 840a. I know they're in two different leagues, but I figure if I'm going to make the move, I want it to be right. If I can save the money to get a new receiver for my HT, great.

I know the best thing is to audition, but the only dealer that carries both lines is 600km away and I'm going there in a couple of weeks. I just don't want the seller pushing the big stuff on me just to make a big sale. On paper, looks like the 640a would be fine.

I have heard the Arro's and the Sttaf's with Audiolab and Moon amps (too much money or not enough inputs), loved them both. The Arro's are more into my budget and the wife's tastes (WAF).

Any advise from you guys would be greatly appreciated before I make the trip.

Thanks
 

cwilson

Active Member
I think most totems need an amp with a fair amount of grip before they sound at their best. I would therefore suggest that if you want the CA amps you go as for up the chain as you can. I would also suggest, that budget permitting you try and hear the speakers with something from Naim or Rega,
say the Nait 5i, or Mira 3.
 

karkus30

Banned
I agree with the above comments. Also LFD is worth putting on your short list. More powerful than the Naim and sweeter at the mid and top end.
 

Rikizzy

Standard Member
Thanks for your replies guys.

I live in a very remote area in Canada, and my local dealer supports mostly CA, NAD and in the big leagues, YBA or he can order in some more exotic amps like tubes. And speaker wise, he sells JM Lab, Mordaunt Short and PSB. So that is why I'm looking at the CA combo, for local after sale support and also, to support local economy if I like that combo.

Now, I just heard from Totem, they say that for the size of my room, the Sttaf would be better suited and that the 640 combo would be ok power ratings wise.

I would love to look at better quality amps like Naim, Rotel, Moon, Audiolab, Jolida, Arcam... But the CA 840a/c already bust my budget without buying speakers and have to save up some more and buy them later. My budget is about $3,000cdn or about £1,508.47. So unless I can get a much better bang for the money with something else without going used or internet buying, I'm open for suggestions.

Thanks again.
 

Mark F

Active Member
I've had a pair of Arros for three years now and have been running them with Cyrus amplification. I've just upgraded from a pair of SmartPower Plus amps (running in mono) driving them to a pair of Mono Xs :). The improvement is staggering and has confirmed to me that the Arros need plenty of power up them or, more accurately, an amp that can cope with large swings in current as they are a relatively tough load to drive.

I guess what I'm saying is, you need a decent amp, but not necessarily one with lots of watts per channel, if that makes sense. It also ties in with a recentish review in one of the hifi mags (HiFi News?) that the Arros work well with valve amps.
 

Mark F

Active Member
Now, I just heard from Totem, they say that for the size of my room, the Sttaf would be better suited and that the 640 combo would be ok power ratings wise.

The 640 combo will drive the Arros or Staff and be "ok" power ratings wise, the question is whether the 640 amp will get the best out of the Arros. Before proceeding with a 640 amp, I'd suggest a demo with some other amps to check the 640 will do the Arros justice.

On room size, my room is a fair bit bigger at 21'x14' and my Arros sound great (no shortage of bass for example) now they're on the end of Mono Xs. Based on my expereince, I don't think you necessarily need the Staffs for your room provided you get an amp with enough balls to drive the Arros (see my above post).

Further thought, if you do decide on the 840 amp (or something similar in price) you could always save a few dollars by going for the 640 CD player - it's a might fine CDP.

Hope this helps.

Mark
 

Rikizzy

Standard Member
Mark,

Thanks for your replies, I was really happy to hear about your experience with the Arro's. There isn't that many people talking about them on the forums.

I can't wait to go see the dealer next week, he's the only one in the whole province to carry both lines that I'm interrested in. I will audition both CDP with the 840a and will try both speaker models. I will also ask the dealer to show me other options that fit my budget and that he thinks will do a good job with the speakers. He also sells Anthem, Bryston, Exposure, Linn, Moon, Quad and YBA. I'm pretty sure these will be quite higher than my budget. I still think that the 840a will be the best bang for the money, unless I hate it.

Thanks again.
 

Rikizzy

Standard Member
Another shop owner that doesn't sell the Totems, wants me to hear the Naim Nait 5i MKII with the matching CDP, I could get them at about the same price as the CA 840 combo.

I would like your opinions on this other combo and what are the main differences between the two (number of inputs, power (I know watts don't mean much), quality in build and sound, etc.). I will not be able to hear with the Totems.

Thanks.
 

Crustyloafer

Distinguished Member
Being in Canada I would have thought that a Bryston amp could be had reasonably cheaply, well compared to over here anyway. The B100SST integrated would be a good match for the Totems.
 

Rikizzy

Standard Member
Well, phase one is done.:thumbsup:

I spent about three hours auditioning the Totems with the CA840a and 640a combined with the 640c.

The Arro had amazing soundstage and mids, Diana Krall sounded like she was right there in the room. On the low end, contra-bass and electric bass guitar was very good but any bass drum had no presence at all when listenning to Keb' Mo', John Mayer or Chris Botti's live CD. These very little speakers are very elegant and sound great for small to medium rooms.
I then tried the Sttaf and it was day and night, everything was there. I was very surprised at the amount of base that came out of these speakers, and without sacrificing the mids and highs.

I decided to use the 640c with both amps because of its price point and to see how it would perform. The 840a is a nice amp, very detailed, amazing sound stage and a lot of head room power wise, just got to get used to the sound of the relays when changing volume. It will let you know when you have a bad recording, the dealer told me to trim down the treble in those instances and not increase bass.The 640a did a very good job too, but with less clarity and less precise sound stage. But it's more forgiving on bad recordings for those same reasons. It had no trouble driving the Sttaf.

So, in the end, I left with the Sttaf since this dealer is the closest one selling them (600km) and I could buy the amp locally at home. I think I got a decent deal, they are retailed at $1995cdn (£1020.65), and got them for $1600cdn (£818.51).:clap:

They've been running for about 10 hours a day since last week (needing about 80 hours to burn in), and they sound and look great in red mahogany in my living room, even with my old Sherwood amp and Ipod I'm amazed at how they sound and how punchy the bass is at any sound volume compared to my Wharfedales and sub combo.

Now I will save up for the 840a and, depending on finances, for the 640c or the 840c cdp.

So thanks for your replies, I'm very happy with my purchase and the wife is not complaining either. (I would like to apologize for the poor wording in my review, I'm by no means an audiophile, I'm a newbie in this hobby and french canadian:rolleyes::ca:).
 

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