Need Integrated amp upgrade advice for Focal 936s

spacequad

Novice Member
I have been looking to upgrade my main two channel system for just over a year. Started with a pair of Paradigm Studio 60s paired with my 16-year-old Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXV receiver (130 W per channel) and listening to mostly TIDAL Through a Chromecast audio using the pioneer's Burr-Brown DAC (24/96). I actually enjoyed that set up very much but had some issues with the midrange and my Paradigms could be a little bright. After spending/wasting some time looking for an amplifier to fix what was a speaker problem(Turns out the paradigms have a pronounced 3 decibel dip around 1.5 kHz), I came across a mint pair of Focal Aria 936 speakers being sold for US$2400 in my area and I could not pass up the opportunity. These speakers transformed the music that had been coming out of that Chromecast – Pioneer combination. Amazingly transparent and smooth. Just blown away! I do feel like I'm missing a little bit of the punch in the base region that my Paradigms would provide and also wondering if the fact that the 936 are so demanding impedance wise in that 300 Hz to 1000 Hz region that maybe my Pioneer can't keep up (It's only rated to 6 ohms)? It still sounds fantastic but I have to wonder if I'm handicapping the speakers with that source and amplification so I've been looking to try to find a suitable upgrade. My budget is around US $1500- $2500 and the following are the options that I've been considering (Looking at refurbished options for some of these to keep the cost down):
  • NAD M10 ~$2000 refurb
  • NAD 388 W/BluOS-2i module ~$1500 refurb
  • NAD C658 Streamer w/Dirac + NAD 368 ~$2200 refurb
  • Cambridge Audio CXN V2 + CXA81~$1800 refurb
  • Yamaha A-S801 + Audiolab 6000N Play ~$1549 new
  • Music Fidelity M5Si + Bluesound node 2i `$2550 new
The two below I like but I'm not sure they have enough power for what I need:
  • Marantz PM7000N $999 new
  • Hegel H9 $2000 new
Thoughts or advice? Anyone here running the 936s with any of these setups or something similar? Of those setups the only one I would be able to go listen to in my area would be the NAD M10 .Thank you!
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The Focals are very good speakers but somewhat demanding not through ohm loading and sensitivity but in that they can drop to 2.8 ohms as a minimum. You should be looking for an amp with good reserves of power. If you are happy with how they sound at the moment with an AV amp driving them then you're in for a treat with a stereo amp controlling the power.

You've not mentioned Naim in your list and perhaps you should look at the amps from that manufacturer as they actually are owned by Focal and there is likely to be a good synergy between the two.

The Marantz PM7000 is a good amp but simply not good enough for the Focals. The MF5si is the region you should be looking at along with, perhaps the Rega Elicit-R which can sustain the drop in ohms and is a very quick amp with bass frequencies.

The main problem you have with asking for recommendations is that we all have our favourites, very few will have experience of a fairly considerable amount of amps. I can only tell you to avoid one and recommend two others plus another manufacturer.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I’d go for something with Dirac. It’s worth the price without a doubt.

If you can find either a used Lyngdorf 1120 or Lyngdorf 2170 in the US I’d go for that, or save for a new one.

The RoomPerfect software room correction is superb.
 

daddy999

Active Member
I personally love the Yamaha sound, my as2100 is the perfect sound and look for me. Rega, Cyrus, Roksan, YBA, all make amps that are well worth a demo, They will all easily drive the Focal speakers, but whether you like the sound is something only you can decide. Good luck.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Alternatively if you’d like to save a little cash, but still have a first class amp and Dirac I’d choose this one.


Adding an inexpensive streamer and using the Arcams dac will get you all you need.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Left field idea,
Blusound node 2i
Behiringer a800
 

Saabas

Novice Member
I would also suggest the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120. Bought a one about 3,5 months ago and I have been more than happy since then. Drives my Focal Aria 948 beautifully.

Edit: typo
 

gava

Active Member
Yamaha WXA50
Nord Acoustics Nord One SE MP NC502 500W Stereo Power Amp
 

spacequad

Novice Member
The Focals are very good speakers but somewhat demanding not through ohm loading and sensitivity but in that they can drop to 2.8 ohms as a minimum. You should be looking for an amp with good reserves of power. If you are happy with how they sound at the moment with an AV amp driving them then you're in for a treat with a stereo amp controlling the power.

You've not mentioned Naim in your list and perhaps you should look at the amps from that manufacturer as they actually are owned by Focal and there is likely to be a good synergy between the two.

The Marantz PM7000 is a good amp but simply not good enough for the Focals. The MF5si is the region you should be looking at along with, perhaps the Rega Elicit-R which can sustain the drop in ohms and is a very quick amp with bass frequencies.

The main problem you have with asking for recommendations is that we all have our favourites, very few will have experience of a fairly considerable amount of amps. I can only tell you to avoid one and recommend two others plus another manufacturer.
I'll definitely start looking into the Naim amps although they're not as easy to find here in the states.

I understand that ultimately all I am going to get is subjective opinions but it's nice to hear what others have to say especially if they've got any experience with any of the amps that I'm looking into or my speakers. My biggest problem is that in my area the only amps from my list that are available to listen to are the Yamaha 801 and the NAD M10 and in either case it would not be with my speakers or in my set up so ultimately I have to make a decision and live with it..;.; Or return it and try again!
 

spacequad

Novice Member
Alternatively if you’d like to save a little cash, but still have a first class amp and Dirac I’d choose this one.


Adding an inexpensive streamer and using the Arcams dac will get you all you need.
That looks like a very interesting option. Plenty of power and it's a class A-AB which I've been very interested in trying out as I've always had that receiver which is a class D from the early 2000's. As a lot of features though it sucks that it only has an iOS app – I'm an android user. I'm going to keep an eye on it dual research.Thanks
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Denon PMA 1600NE or it’s bigger brother 2500NE should also be on your list. Perhaps I’m misspelling the model names. The Yamaha model I mentioned I’m not sure is your price class. The Marantz model you mentioned we’ll have no problems driving your speakers. It could be hand you if you want streamer build in.
 

spacequad

Novice Member
I would also suggest the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120. Bought a one about 3,5 months ago and I have been more than happy since then. Drives my Focal Aria 948 beautifully.

Edit: typo
Interesting. You're the second to recommend it. Had never really heard of it until this thread. It has a lot of features and has decent amount of power with 120 [email protected] ohms. If it drives your Aria 948s I'm guessing it should have no problem driving my 936s. How big is your listening room and at what levels do you listen at? Also did you have success using the room correction?
Left field idea,
Blusound node 2i
Behiringer a800
Well it has a crap-tonne of power at a ridiculous price but I thought I had heard that these amplifiers have a really high noise floor and it might get annoying with high-sensitivity speakers like mine?
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Don’t get to hang up with power. 40 watt amplifier can sound just as good as as 200 watt amplifier. But of course it depends a lot. Many factors to consider. Noise floor is no fun with high sensitivity speakers. If you’re concern about that I’d look at Yamaha high end models. Supposedly they have a really low noise floor.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Marantz Ki Ruby, Marantz Model 30 are good alternatives. Model 30 has digital power supply. Since you’re considering the Nad M10, I guess you can stretch the budget a bit. Personally I would not buy NAD. Many problems with NAD.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Quite possibly noise floor on a800 may not suit but a few websites allow you to buy and return within 30 days if it doesn't suit
 

gava

Active Member
Interesting. You're the second to recommend it. Had never really heard of it until this thread. It has a lot of features and has decent amount of power with 120 [email protected] ohms. If it drives your Aria 948s I'm guessing it should have no problem driving my 936s. How big is your listening room and at what levels do you listen at? Also did you have success using the room correction?

Well it has a crap-tonne of power at a ridiculous price but I thought I had heard that these amplifiers have a really high noise floor and it might get annoying with high-sensitivity speakers like mine?

The A800 isn't too bad - it's pretty clean to my ears - I don't hear any hiss or noise on my KEF LS50 (low sensitivity) or my Q Acoustics Concept 300 (also med-low). The measurements over at ASR show it having quite reasonable SINAD, but the noise floor is such that you may hear it on higher sensitivity speakers. You can certainly do better within your budget.

For a bit more money you can get things that really do measure very cleanly, like Nord, NAD, etc.

But if your Arias are really that sensitive, and their quoted 92dB suggests that, then you can put the Marantz PM7000N back on your list. It will have plenty of power to drive them as I have used it without problems on both the above with no problem driving them to a very clean 95 dB at 3m and for a few minutes to >100dB without any real problems, though the LS50s are not very well behaved that loud and they are a little better with the A800 than the Marantz at ear-damaging volumes.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
How about some of the Denon models I mentioned? Denon always seem to sit all the way back in the class, a bit shy when it comes to sound in the hifi community. A real shame if you ask me. Yes, the more cheaper versions are not so good, but the high end models are just as good as Marantz, Yamaha, Arcam, Hegel etc.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
The A800 isn't too bad - it's pretty clean to my ears - I don't hear any hiss or noise on my KEF LS50 (low sensitivity) or my Q Acoustics Concept 300 (also med-low). The measurements over at ASR show it having quite reasonable SINAD, but the noise floor is such that you may hear it on higher sensitivity speakers. You can certainly do better within your budget.

For a bit more money you can get things that really do measure very cleanly, like Nord, NAD, etc.

But if your Arias are really that sensitive, and their quoted 92dB suggests that, then you can put the Marantz PM7000N back on your list. It will have plenty of power to drive them as I have used it without problems on both the above with no problem driving them to a very clean 95 dB at 3m and for a few minutes to >100dB without any real problems, though the LS50s are not very well behaved that loud and they are a little better with the A800 than the Marantz at ear-damaging volumes.
The Marantz PM7000N we’ll suit the Focal very well. Of course it depends on how loud he wants to play. But for normal to very high volume-no problem. If disco volume is required then the Hegel models in the NAD M10 price range new could suit him better.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
The 1120, 2170 and 3400 have a zero noise level. Speakers are silent.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
It may appear to be outside your budget, but consider adding the NAD M33 to your list. Because it includes DAC, streamer and DSP room correction, it is true digital all-in-one but also offers phono in for vinyl users and headphone output too. Perhaps other kit could be sold to add to the budget.

I was also hugely impressed with the earlier M32. It offers all the M33 (and the less good M10) does apart from streamer and DSP. If looking at used, look out for an M32 with the optional streamer module - it could be within budget.

Regarding DSP, I now have the M33 that includes Dirac Live, but I prefer the sound with no Dirac filter. Dirac makes it more accurate but a little of the music's life is lost, despite the fact that Dirac is only adjusting sub 500 Hz. In my view the entire signal requires additional processing and the music suffers a little across the entire frequency range. However those with less good speakers or very tricky rooms may think the improved accuracy outweighs the slight loss in lifelikeness. Peter
 
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Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
@spacequad, if you’re consent about power. How about buying separates? One pre amplifier, one power amplifier. But as mentioned before Yamaha’s little brother to AS2200, the AS1200 we’ll suit the Focal speakers very good. That is if you can stretch the budget to brand new amplifiers, perhaps you even can found some used. NAD before used to sound very warm, powerful. Today they sound way more neutral, but still powerful. I have had bad luck with three NAD amplifiers in the past. But I have only listed to the M10,M33 at the store. They sound very good, still they sound to polite in my opinion. Yamaha has way more fun sound. Regarding NAD, I’d google them. The M33 has a lot of software problems. I’m not saying all people have problems, still I google it anyway. Good luck.👍
 

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