Newbie here - Help me choose my setup!

FisherSpencer

Novice Member
Hi all, first time buyer and complete newbie here looking at going (sorta) big for his first setup!

I'm stuck between two setups (Though I'm more than open to suggestions/improvements) I just wanted to garner an opinion and also make sure I've got everything I need and it'll all work quite well together (Not imperative, but if I'm blowing money unnecessarily, do let me know!) My budget is around £2000-£3000, and this would mainly be for playing my records in my medium sized room (I live on my own in an apartment, so it'll be in the main living room/kitchen, open plan) I've got a separate Sonos system for my streaming services!

Setup 1:

KEF LS50 Meta Speakers

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo Turntable

Marantz PM6007 Amp

Cambridge Duo MC/MM Pre-Amp

Audioquest 11 Speaker Cable

Chord C Line 2RCA to RCA Audio Interconnect



Setup 2:

Rega Planar 3/Elys 2 Turntable

Rega Fono MM MK3 Phono Stage

CXA81 Amp

Dali Oberon 5 Floorstanding Speakers

Audioquest 11 Speaker Cable

Chord C Line 2RCA to RCA Audio Interconnect



I've also seen the Audiolab 6000A Amp as a cheaper option than the CXA81, how do they compare? Like I said, any advice/improvements is a great help. I'm also more than willing to mix and match the two setups if there's a better setup somewhere in there (as long as the price doesn't get too daft!), as well as any other options I'm missed out/haven't stumbled upon.

Any help much appreciated, cheers!
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
First thing is to save yourself a load of your budget by replacing the cables with Amazon basics interconnectors and Kabeldirekt 2.5sq.mm cross section speaker cables, you need spend no more than £50 on your cables.

I also think that the Marantz PM6006 will struggle to drive the Metas which need 100w plus a meaty power supply to get the best out of them as they are not very efficient and drop to quite a low impedance.

Going new I would start with the Planar 3 but with a AT VM95ML cartridge (£129) and use Rega’s own Elex-R amp which has a good internal phono stage so no need for an external one. With the rest of you budget have a listen to a range of speakers and see what your ears like. I would start with Kef R3 and compare them to Rega RX3, Wharfedale Linton and Sonus Faber Lumina 2 for vinyl. But there are a multitude of options and only your ears can decide and ideally after a home audition.
 
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FisherSpencer

Novice Member
First thing is to save yourself a load of your budget by replacing the cables with Amazon basics interconnectors and Kabeldirekt 2.5sq.mm cross section speaker cables, you need spend no more than £50 on your cables.

I also think that the Marantz PM6006 will struggle to drive the Metas which need 100w plus a meaty power supply to get the best out of them as they are not very efficient and drop to quite a low impedance.

Going new I would start with the Planar 3 but with a AT VM95ML cartridge (£129) and use Rega’s own Elex-R amp which has a good internal phono stage so no need for an external one. With the rest of you budget have a listen to a range of speakers and see what your ears like. I would start with Kef R3 and compare them to Wharfedale Linton and Sonus Faber Lumina 2 for vinyl. But there are a multitude of options and only your ears can decide and ideally after a home audition.
Thank you so much for replying! I was very hesitant over the price of cables and spent far too long the other day looking through debates regarding whether they're super important or not, so it's great to hear that.

So would you recommend the Elex-R Amp over the Cambridge Audio CXA81 and the Audiolab 6000A? I don't really mind about the cost of either as long as I get the best performance really, but I must say the internal phono stage is a big plus. I'll definitely take those speaker recommendations into account, would you recommend all of those you've listed over the Dali Oberon 5's and the KEF LS50 Meta's? (Even though it's all subjective and circumstantial, of course)
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Worth searching through the usual outlet clearance sections for ex-demo or end of line equipment, you can typically save 20-30% that way but still have the backup of bricks and mortar sellers. Have a look at Audio T, Sevenoaks sound and vision, Peter Tyson, Richers, Fanthorpes plus a couple of the more well known online retailers such as Hifix and AVonline etc. These sellers also do bundle offers that can save quite a bit of money if they have a bundle that suits your needs.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
For vinyl I think I wouldprefer those listed as they tend to be on the warmer side of neutral whreas the Metas and Dali's can be on the brighter side (along with B&W) but as said its your ears.
 

FisherSpencer

Novice Member
For vinyl I think I wouldprefer those listed as they tend to be on the warmer side of neutral whreas the Metas and Dali's can be on the brighter side (along with B&W) but as said its your ears.
Brilliant, you've been an absolute ton of help thank you so much, I've got a much clearer picture of what I'm looking for now. Cheers!
 

gibbsy

Moderator
recommend the Elex-R Amp over the Cambridge Audio CXA81 and the Audiolab 6000A?
I would. I know from experience of ownership that Rega and KEF do partner very well although I prefer the R Series to the LS50s. You will pay twice the price for the Rega than you would for a Marantz pm6007 but it's certainly worth it.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you can, makea short list of stuff that interests you and go and get sme auditions, bearing in mind that the kit may sound different in your home but it will be a start to rule out or rule in options.

Quick search threw up Mann Hifi in Worcester who stock Rega turntables and amps (plus may be worth listening to the Musial Fidelity 2si which they stock or the Rotel A14 which may be a more neutral sound for comparison and if you are interested in audiolab they have 8300A) for speakers they have B&W (clean), Dali and The Wharfedale Linton (warm) to compare - worth a call to get the ball rolling.


I would resist a purchase on first listen, do your price homework and also exdemos and then once you have decided go for a second listen or better a home demo and start to barter.

Otherwise its a day trip to Brum to pick up Sevenoaks, Richer and anywhere else you fancy.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Just some more general advice.

Buy the right speakers for your room, and then decide the best amp to partner those specific speakers. Try your decision making in that order.

If you need help deciding what constitutes the right speakers for your room, please ask, and give us an idea of room size, and whether it’s carpeted or wooden floors, and how much glass area. Can you accommodate speakers a distance from their rear wall? Are you going to be sat close to the opposite wall to the speakers? The answers to these questions will determine whether your speaker shortlist is in the right ball park.

Once you’ve got a speaker shortlist, ask the forum for appropriate amps to match those speakers. Amp/speaker pairing is critical to the overall balance of the system sounding good. 5-star reviewed speakers and 5-star reviewed amps can combine to make truly awful systems if they are badly matched. By the same token, some budget speakers can punch way above their weight if chosen well.

This leads me to my next point. Please don’t be too swayed by reviews. Instead, use your ears to decide. So only use reviews and forum members’ suggestions to get a shortlist. Don’t buy blind on our recommendation.

Try not to feel pressured into buying something just because it has a good discount, You might feel you’re going up a level, say in your speaker choice, when actually those speakers only sound good with a price appropriate amp. Expensive speakers and budget amps can sound truly dreadful.

Final piece of advice: demo as much as you can. Find a dealer local to you and get them to mix and match price appropriate components until you hit on the sound that you like. Take your own music along to demo music you know well, as you’ll more easily be able to discern the differences.

Reviews are useful guides to establish a shortlist, but nothing more. For example, reviewers fairly universally praise the LS50’s, but when i heard them in the flesh, I didn’t like them at all. I’m not saying this to put you off LS50’s, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t take reviews as gospel. Listen to your own ears and taste.

Find a dealer near you. Tell him about your room, your taste in music and your budget. Don’t narrow him down by suggesting certain components. Let him decide a few options to listen to. You may find you come away with a product you think is fantastic that you never heard before and wasn’t even on your shortlist. But items you had shortlisted and got well excited about (perhaps by their looks), within 2 minutes you may think they sound dreadful.

Can I ask, how have you established your shortlist so far? Is it based on reviews you’ve read? If so, you may be about to make an expensive mistake. And believe me, many on this forum have made mistakes like this themselves, which is why we repeat this advice time and again: demo as much as you can and judge by your own tastes.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Reviews are useful guides to establish a shortlist, but nothing more. For example, reviewers fairly universally praise the LS50’s, but when i heard them in the flesh, I didn’t like them at all. I’m not saying this to put you off LS50’s, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t take reviews as gospel. Listen to your own ears and taste.
I'll echo this sentiment. Although I'm going back a good few years I far preferred the KEF R300s to the original LS50s.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you are happy with second hand then there are some nice combinations you can put together. Here is an example, the only issue being that it is a bit of a gamble as you can’t hear it as a system. But here goes at the top of your budget -

Linn axis with Project 9cc arm and Denon DL110 high output mc cartridge £625 with offers.


or this Technics SL1500 with Ortofon Red on it at £650


For the amp look nor further than this Rega Elicit R £1100


For compact floorstanders speakers either these Kef R500’s


or these PMC Twent.23’s


or for stand mounts these ex demo Kef R3 (probably my choice)


Or PMC Twenty.22


and for the wild card these Wilson Benesch Arc speakers, £4K when new and the ultimate in detail So may not suit all tastes.

 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Excellent advice directly above.

I would merely add that, good though the LS50s clearly are, the Kef R3 and R5 are genuine three way speakers.

IMHO that can make a big difference. The extra clarity it allows for in a well sorted system is well worth striving for.

And the bigger Regas, with their built in phono stage and excellent current supply, are necessarily serious contenders for any hifi, and especially one based around vinyl.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Ps, I’d also suggest neither the 6007 or the 6000A amp are really serious contenders in a system at this price.
 

FisherSpencer

Novice Member
If you can, makea short list of stuff that interests you and go and get sme auditions, bearing in mind that the kit may sound different in your home but it will be a start to rule out or rule in options.

Quick search threw up Mann Hifi in Worcester who stock Rega turntables and amps (plus may be worth listening to the Musial Fidelity 2si which they stock or the Rotel A14 which may be a more neutral sound for comparison and if you are interested in audiolab they have 8300A) for speakers they have B&W (clean), Dali and The Wharfedale Linton (warm) to compare - worth a call to get the ball rolling.


I would resist a purchase on first listen, do your price homework and also exdemos and then once you have decided go for a second listen or better a home demo and start to barter.

Otherwise its a day trip to Brum to pick up Sevenoaks, Richer and anywhere else you fancy.
I'll be sure to get in touch with Mann Hifi and have an in person listen, I might have to have a day trip to brum to try out some of the KEF speakers though!
 

FisherSpencer

Novice Member
Just some more general advice.

Buy the right speakers for your room, and then decide the best amp to partner those specific speakers. Try your decision making in that order.

If you need help deciding what constitutes the right speakers for your room, please ask, and give us an idea of room size, and whether it’s carpeted or wooden floors, and how much glass area. Can you accommodate speakers a distance from their rear wall? Are you going to be sat close to the opposite wall to the speakers? The answers to these questions will determine whether your speaker shortlist is in the right ball park.

Once you’ve got a speaker shortlist, ask the forum for appropriate amps to match those speakers. Amp/speaker pairing is critical to the overall balance of the system sounding good. 5-star reviewed speakers and 5-star reviewed amps can combine to make truly awful systems if they are badly matched. By the same token, some budget speakers can punch way above their weight if chosen well.

This leads me to my next point. Please don’t be too swayed by reviews. Instead, use your ears to decide. So only use reviews and forum members’ suggestions to get a shortlist. Don’t buy blind on our recommendation.

Try not to feel pressured into buying something just because it has a good discount, You might feel you’re going up a level, say in your speaker choice, when actually those speakers only sound good with a price appropriate amp. Expensive speakers and budget amps can sound truly dreadful.

Final piece of advice: demo as much as you can. Find a dealer local to you and get them to mix and match price appropriate components until you hit on the sound that you like. Take your own music along to demo music you know well, as you’ll more easily be able to discern the differences.

Reviews are useful guides to establish a shortlist, but nothing more. For example, reviewers fairly universally praise the LS50’s, but when i heard them in the flesh, I didn’t like them at all. I’m not saying this to put you off LS50’s, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t take reviews as gospel. Listen to your own ears and taste.

Find a dealer near you. Tell him about your room, your taste in music and your budget. Don’t narrow him down by suggesting certain components. Let him decide a few options to listen to. You may find you come away with a product you think is fantastic that you never heard before and wasn’t even on your shortlist. But items you had shortlisted and got well excited about (perhaps by their looks), within 2 minutes you may think they sound dreadful.

Can I ask, how have you established your shortlist so far? Is it based on reviews you’ve read? If so, you may be about to make an expensive mistake. And believe me, many on this forum have made mistakes like this themselves, which is why we repeat this advice time and again: demo as much as you can and judge by your own tastes.
I can't thank you enough for the detailed reply and advice you've given me here. I've made an attempt at a dodgy floorplan which I hope helps in some way? I'll attach the file, it's only a rough estimate though, I've been too busy at work to measure around the room haha, in regards to glass, the only glass really is the balcony doors and a small window in the kitchen.

Of course, I'll have to go and listen in person to draw up an informed shortlist but at the minute I'm leaning towards to KEF R3's, KEF LS50 Metas and the Wharfedale Lintons but it could all change from an in person listen and I guess it also depends what fits the room size?

Yeah, my shortlist really has been built based on reviews and as much research as I could find. I'm quite swayed by the Rega Planar 3/Elys 2 with a Rega Elex-R Integrated Amp, if that's a good set up at all? But again, the CXA81 has rave reviews but no built in phono stage, and I don't know if it'd be a better fit for me personally so it'll need an in-person listen.

Again, can't thank you enough for all the help, as you say it can lead to a very expensive mistake and one I'm not keen to make or rush in to!
 

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FisherSpencer

Novice Member
If you are happy with second hand then there are some nice combinations you can put together. Here is an example, the only issue being that it is a bit of a gamble as you can’t hear it as a system. But here goes at the top of your budget -

Linn axis with Project 9cc arm and Denon DL110 high output mc cartridge £625 with offers.


or this Technics SL1500 with Ortofon Red on it at £650


For the amp look nor further than this Rega Elicit R £1100


For compact floorstanders speakers either these Kef R500’s


or these PMC Twent.23’s


or for stand mounts these ex demo Kef R3 (probably my choice)


Or PMC Twenty.22


and for the wild card these Wilson Benesch Arc speakers, £4K when new and the ultimate in detail So may not suit all tastes.

Wow, thank you for digging into this for me! I'll have to have a look at the links as work has eBay blocked, but they're all intriguing options for sure. My only thing is if I'm spending this much anyway, it'd be nice to have it new and unused, but I'm not too fussed if it's in very good condition. As you said yourself though, slightly more risky! (I'm a gambling man and I can't say those Wilson Benesch Arc Speakers don't intrigue me)
 

FisherSpencer

Novice Member
Excellent advice directly above.

I would merely add that, good though the LS50s clearly are, the Kef R3 and R5 are genuine three way speakers.

IMHO that can make a big difference. The extra clarity it allows for in a well sorted system is well worth striving for.

And the bigger Regas, with their built in phono stage and excellent current supply, are necessarily serious contenders for any hifi, and especially one based around vinyl.
It seems the KEF R3's come highly recommended, and for only a few hundred more than the LS50 Meta's seem the way to go, but again I'll probably need to demo in person first.

Is there much of a noticeable difference between the Elex-R and the Elicit-R? I feel like the built in phono stage is a huge draw over the CXA81, so I'm massively leaning towards either one of these.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Is there much of a noticeable difference between the Elex-R and the Elicit-R? I feel like the built in phono stage is a huge draw over the CXA81, so I'm massively leaning towards either one of these.
Yes. I did experience this with R300s. There was more depth and expansive soundstage with the Elicit over the Elex. Not that the Elex is poor, far from it. It was more of an exercise to show the difference between the two levels of the Rega as the Elex wasn't on my radar because I needed HT by-pass which only the Elicit has.

The Elicit is very quick, something that the KEFs will respond to. Outstanding bass control with the R300s, gives a very rich bass response, you hear the notes of a bass guitar, they don't blend and be lost in each other.

Not having a TT I can't comment on the phono stage but I will point out that neither Regas have a headphone circuit if indeed that is of any importance. That was of importance to me but in the initial audition against a Naim XS2 where the Rega was put into the audition on the recommendation of the dealer I was really going to dismiss it because of that lack of a headphone jack.

The Elicit just put a huge smile on my face and even though I knew I'd have to run a standalone headphone amp alongside it I just had to have the Rega, so more cost. That's how much I enjoyed the Elicit and KEF combination.
 

FisherSpencer

Novice Member
Yes. I did experience this with R300s. There was more depth and expansive soundstage with the Elicit over the Elex. Not that the Elex is poor, far from it. It was more of an exercise to show the difference between the two levels of the Rega as the Elex wasn't on my radar because I needed HT by-pass which only the Elicit has.

The Elicit is very quick, something that the KEFs will respond to. Outstanding bass control with the R300s, gives a very rich bass response, you hear the notes of a bass guitar, they don't blend and be lost in each other.

Not having a TT I can't comment on the phono stage but I will point out that neither Regas have a headphone circuit if indeed that is of any importance. That was of importance to me but in the initial audition against a Naim XS2 where the Rega was put into the audition on the recommendation of the dealer I was really going to dismiss it because of that lack of a headphone jack.

The Elicit just put a huge smile on my face and even though I knew I'd have to run a standalone headphone amp alongside it I just had to have the Rega, so more cost. That's how much I enjoyed the Elicit and KEF combination.
Sounds like it made quite the impression, I'll put the Elicit R straight to the top of my list when I go for my demo. Seems like my budget may have to stretch a bit more than initially intended!
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you go for second hand elicit, ex demo R3, then your choice of turntable around the Planar 3 price point you are still in your £3k top end budget. If all new you are closer to £4K.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Seems like my budget may have to stretch a bit more than initially intended!
That's what HiFi Forums are for to help you bankrupt yourself. :thumbsup:

@Ugg10 suggestion of the ex-demo R3s is a very good find from a reputable dealer as is SSaV. I bought an open box Pioneer 4K player from them a couple of years ago and I've had no bother with it so you can buy from them with confidence.

With the used Elicit he also found if you do look into it Rega do give a life time warranty with their products and this is what you'll find on page 16 of the owners manual.

OWNERS LOG

(1) Owner……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Date…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...
Where purchased………………………………………………………………………………………………

(2) Owner……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Date…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...
Where purchased………………………………………………………………………………………………

(3) Owner……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Date…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...
Where purchased……………………………………………………………………………………………...
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
Sounds like it made quite the impression, I'll put the Elicit R straight to the top of my list when I go for my demo. Seems like my budget may have to stretch a bit more than initially intended!
Have you considered something like this, possibly replacing the amp with a Rega B


As you state above your budgets.growing legs, and given your “newbie” status, something like this is a good way to test the water and see if you like it.


Having had some ££ kit pre kids I’m now slowly building my system back up (See signature) I’m on version 2 , planning V3 but sometimes given the often limited time to listen I find myself thinking should I have stuck with version 1, or just even got a speaker system and Spotify 🤦🏻🤦🏻
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Worth also noting that SSAV have the Musical Fidelity M3SI amp as ex demo in most showrooms at £849. If Mann have one of those in its worth comparing to the Elex/Elicit.

 

Hoku

Active Member
I can't thank you enough for the detailed reply and advice you've given me here. I've made an attempt at a dodgy floorplan which I hope helps in some way? I'll attach the file, it's only a rough estimate though, I've been too busy at work to measure around the room haha, in regards to glass, the only glass really is the balcony doors and a small window in the kitchen.

Of course, I'll have to go and listen in person to draw up an informed shortlist but at the minute I'm leaning towards to KEF R3's, KEF LS50 Metas and the Wharfedale Lintons but it could all change from an in person listen and I guess it also depends what fits the room size?

Yeah, my shortlist really has been built based on reviews and as much research as I could find. I'm quite swayed by the Rega Planar 3/Elys 2 with a Rega Elex-R Integrated Amp, if that's a good set up at all? But again, the CXA81 has rave reviews but no built in phono stage, and I don't know if it'd be a better fit for me personally so it'll need an in-person listen.

Again, can't thank you enough for all the help, as you say it can lead to a very expensive mistake and one I'm not keen to make or rush in to!
Thanks for the room layout plan. It’s a reasonable size, but lopsided, so you may find bass is difficult to judge.

If your speakers are firing across the shorter dimension, and your seating is tight up against the opposite wall, you may find bass rather too plentiful even though your room is large. Bass has a habit of ‘collecting’ at the rear wall (the wall directly opposite your speaker). But if your seating is just 5 ft away from the wall, the impression of bass can be significantly reduced.

Also, how close / far away from the rear wall your speakers are can affect how much perceived bass your system throws out, especially if you have large rear ported speakers.

I haven’t heard the KEF R3’s, but have heard their R300 predecessors and found them way too bass heavy for my tastes, but to be fair, the amp I heard them with probably wasn’t doing them justice either.

So when you go to demo at your dealer, where you can try to replicate conditions at home in the demo room, in terms of how close the speakers are sited to the rear wall and side walls.

If you choose an amplifier that has no room correction or bass/treble tone controls, then the bass you get from your system in your room is what you’re stuck with, so it’s worth getting this right. Discuss this with your dealer, explaining to him how close your speakers are to the walls.

And enjoy the demo process. This isn’t an inexpensive decision you’re making, so it really is worth taking the time to demo and travel if necessary.

At the demo, pay attention to tonal accuracy, bass presence, speed and agility, is the treble detailed but harsh? Does the system have a volume sweet spot? So is it poor at low listening levels and must be driven at higher levels until it comes alive? Or the opposite, does it sound good at low levels but harden and harshen up and become unlistenable at higher party levels?

Happy hunting!
 

gava

Active Member
The LS50M are excellent speakers, but you must pair them with a sub unless you have a small room or are listening near-field. They also need a powerful amplifier.

R3s are also excellent and a superb all-rounder. It's hard to think of a better speaker for the price.

Instead of the listen in your own room or demo the speakers and only trust your own ears. You could listen to this advice and see what you think. I'm afraid I don't really agree with some of the advice above.


My rule is to spend most of your money on speakers... at least half, better 2/3.

Recommendation 1

Get the best speakers you can. Spend most of your money here. These look very promising. £1750


You don't want to under-power those speakers so a good streamer/preamp and solid power amp.

Streamer and Preamp £270


Power Amp £190


And I don't know anything really about modern turntables. With ^^ you would need something with a built-in pre-amp so for example


Recommendation 2

These Revels are a very good deal. And if you insist on a somewhat more hifi and less commercial amplifier.





Recommendation 3

KEF R3 for £1,300. (or Revels above.)

I would then add a good Streaming DAC/Amp, perhaps the new Bluesound Powernode 2021 @ £850.

Then choose your turntable to fill out the remainder of your budget.

Or

Recommendation 4

KEF R3 £1,300 (or Revels above.)

Powerful Boutique amplifier £1,200


Yamaha Streaming Turntable with RCA output £600

 
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