NO Difference between a £600, £1,300 & £1800 setup

discover

Well-known Member
Okay so I went into my local AV shop this afternoon to hear a few combinations of CD players and stereo amps.
The speakers used in all 3 setups were the Monitor Audio RX6.

First I heard a combination of the Pioneer PD-30 & Pioneer A-30 -
Both units seemed really well built, nice brushed metal finish and looked a great match. Nice signature blue LED lighting across both units.
The PD-30 weighed a tonne!
This sounded really good to me, bass sounded tight and fast, mid range was clear and times slightly heavy and the treble was crisp and sharp.
A Fantastic CD/amp package for £599. I was really impressed by this.

Next up I heard a combination of an Arcam FMJ CD37 & FMJ A18 -
Both units were finished in black or dark grey as it appears. Was not too keen on the finish as it looked a little dull but hey it's only a colour.
The display on the CD37 was bright and clear and could be seen a mile away.
I was surprised by the depth of the CD37, It was huge! Shame they didn't have the matching A38 to demo. The combined weight seemed around the same if not slightly heavier than the Pioneer.
To my ears, the Arcam system just didn't have the powerful mid range the Pioneer expressed. It had a kinda flat sound almost like heavy bass and treble but nothing inbetween. The treble was a little clearer, maybe a little too over emphasised at times. The bass sounded clean too, infact it sounded very similar to the Pioneer.
Also a great package but this costs £1,799 - £1,100 more expensive than the Pioneer!

Lastly I heard the Cyrus CD6 2SE & 6A Amp.
I never got to feel the weight of these but they looked stunning, really well built.
As soon as I hit play on the CD6, I noticed it had everything the Pioneer and Arcam had but it was a little more refined. The bass was solid, the mids that the arcam was hiding was back in the picture and treble was crisp, just right. Wasn't too high or sharp as the other too and it just seemed like it got the balance right however the actual sound overall sounded the same to me across all three systems.
Total system costs £1,299.

So I heard a £600, £1,300 and an £1800 system yet to my ears THEY ALL SOUNDED THE SAME! The Cyrus was better but only hairline better. The difference wasn't obvious by any means.
I preferred the sound of a £600 system compared to an £1800 Arcam system.
Why is the Arcam so highly overpriced?? I've only read good stuff about arcam on the net but when I heard this system I was a little disappointed if I'm being honest.
I was surprised by the Pioneer PD-30 & A-30 combo, that really was superb value for money. Even if I had the £1800, I would no doubt buy the Pioneer setup hands down!
So what was the moral of the story???
Does anyone know, because I certainly don't!
One thing I have learnt is the importance of matching the right amp with the right speakers and expensive CD players are just a hype (to my ears)
I apologise in advance to anyone with any of the kit I heard that's taken offense. Of course I never meant it in that way, I'm just expressing what I felt.
 

tazzo

Active Member
Maybe with better speakers a difference could be heard.
 

Arcam_boy

Distinguished Member
They obviously do sound different as you've already explained how the pioneer sounded compared to the Arcam.

I think you're trying to say you don't always get a "better" sound when you spend more money.

As others have said you'd probably get more of a difference if you tried different speakers with the kit. I'm pretty sure the Arcam would sound better if you moved on a level or two with the speakers.
 

bow79

Novice Member
yes an interesting post. I do think speakers can make a big difference to the initial impression of sound. But here is something else I think if you listen to a better system for a while and get used to it all the subtlety which is their but not in the cheaper system is apparent when you go to the cheaper system. But in a quick comparison yes something sounds of tiny amount different but you somehow don't have the places in your mind to store the information from one test to another and words and not a perfect representation of what is the sound.
 

FennerMachine

Active Member
With the Arcam system you are using a £1300.00 CD player with £500.00 amplifier.
The A38 at about £1500.00 would likely have made a bigger difference with that CD player.
As others have already said different speakers with the 3 different systems would likely reveal a bigger difference.
Then again, if you would be happy with £600 kit plus speakers why spend more?
 

discover

Well-known Member
Guys I totally agree wholeheartedly that with better speakers you probably would hear a difference, with that said the RX6's aren't exactly poor speakers. They are the best sounding floorstanders I've heard around the £600 mark.
I was expecting a totally different sound between the 3 but I was wrong. They all sounded exactly the same.
Yes the Arcam was a bit brighter, but that's only tonally. All I had to do was lower the treble a touch. To me, that small bit of difference just does not justify the price tag. It's almost like paying a few grand more for a Touch more treble which I could get the same sound from the cheaper pioneer by raising the treble a touch.
None of them sounded "different" or unique, they all sounded the same.
 

paulktreg

Active Member
It's like everything else and the purist may disagree? You can buy great audio products for £500 and let's score them 8/10, excellent for £1000 and 9/10 and superb for £1500 at 10/10. The jump from great to superb costs a lot of money which only the real enthusiasts appreciate? I go for great every time because I don't appreciate the difference and to be honest I'm not prepared to pay the extra for what is a relatively small improvement in quality.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The Pioneer A30 (£250), while I don't doubt its quality, is only rated at 70w to 4 ohms, which means it is really about a 35w amp to 8 ohms.

The Arcam A18 (£500) is also a very basic low powered amp at 50w/ch channel. That's fine with the right speakers, but still very basic power.

The Cyrus 6A (£700) is still a basic 40w/ch to 8 ohms amp, and only a modest 50w/ch to 4 ohms. Cyrus certainly has the build quality, but these are all pretty basic low powered amps.

If there is any way you can get an audition, try this amp - Rotel RA-1520 (£695) -

Hi Fi Amps And Receivers Rotel RA1520 | hifix.co.uk

Still a modest 60w/ch, but this is considered a very fine amp.

Also, consider the newer Rotel RA12 (£599) with 60w/ch but also having a built-in DAC and Digital inputs

Hi Fi Amps And Receivers Rotel RA12 | hifix.co.uk

This model replaces the previous Rotel RA-06SE (70w/ch), which can still be found at a nice discount now that the new models have been released.

Given that the Monitor Audio RX6 are about £800/pr, that would mean a quality matched amp would be in roughly the £300 to £400 range. Though there are many considerations.

Still, you like what you like. Personally, the Cyrus never seemed like good value to me. I'm sure the build quality is there, but the power runs short for the massive price ... in my opinion.

Another amp in this rough price range, would be the XTZ A100 D3. This seem exceptionally high value and high quality, with very substantial power, and a substantial power supply to back it up. Plus, DAC with Digital Inputs.

XTZ Class A-100 D3 Integrated Stereo Amplifier Silver and Black | Integrated Amplifiers | Amplifiers | Audio Sanctum

Class A100 D3 Svart/Silver

Price at about £665 with a solid 110w/ch to 8 ohms, capable of driven very complex speaker loads. But, there is only one place in the UK that has them. However, Audio Sanctum and XTZ have a policy of sending out a loaner amp, that you can try in your home for 30 days. Contact Audio Sanctum and see if you can get your name on the schedule to audition the amp.

Audio Sanctum is located in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire NG18 5GU, in case that's anywhere near you.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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discover

Well-known Member
Many thanks Steve, I'll sure try and pop around to audio Sanctum as it's only around an hour away from me incase I'm not happy with my amp.
I like the look of the XTZ and Rotel amps you mention but I'll definitely try book a demo first.
I can't believe I blind-purchased a used Arcam A28 yesterday, I only paid £560 for it and it was really tempting so I bought it considering the rrp on these is £999.
They never had a demo facility otherwise I surely would of listened to it before I bought it.
Just need to find a nice CD player to match it. The Pioneer PD-30 is top of the pile interms of value for money.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
As a side note, I had a late 1970's Pioneer amp with a modest 45w/ch, I never loved an amp more than I love that one. Everything about it was just right including the very low 1970's price tag. Started getting weak in one channel, broke my heart to retire it.

So, the point is, value is important. I don't see much value in a 50w/ch Cyrus at £700. Not when there are so many more powerful yet good quality amps around.

Yes, many product of stunningly high price can sound good, but is it worth the Big Pile of Cash you have to pay to get it? Different answers for different people.

As to visiting Audio Sanctum, ideally you would call in advance and make an appointment. That way you can be sure you will be able to hear the equipment you are interested in. If you just pop in, you might be limited to whatever equipment they have on display. Calling ahead, will save both you and them a lot of time and work. Also, XTZ makes some pretty nice speakers.

Have you tried the Arcam A28 yet. That's actually a pretty good amp, and I would certainly consider one, especially for that low price. The Arcam sound may or may not appeal to you, but for the right price, I can make some sacrifices.

Steve/bluewizard
 

discover

Well-known Member
Old is gold!
I think some of the older stuff was better built.
Nowadays it's all about cost-efficiency, things just don't seem to last as long as they did.

I know exactly what you mean about the Cyrus amp and value for money.
Something decent at half the price would match it for sure and I don't think there would be an audible difference.
I think with really high end stuff it's more of a psychological thing in "knowing" that you have the best equipment money can buy, not necessarily sounding better than equivalent gear at half the price.
I can pretty much guarantee that if anyone performed a blind test on the systems I heard you too would find nothing between them. Sure you could pick out the Arcam by its signature sound but does that make it better or £1000 better than the rest?

About audio sanctum, I meant I will call them to book in advance for a demo.
That's based on if I'm happy with the Arcam A28 which I'm yet to setup and listen to.
Don't get a day off until midweek so it might have to wait a few days.
More importantly, I don't have a cd player or speakers to go with it yet. My hearts telling me to go with the Pioneer PD30 as it sounded as good as the more expensive stuff plus it adds SACD playback & a USB port.
Suppose I could disconnect my RX6 and use those for a week or so. I've got my eyes on a used pair of RX2's at a cracking price, just waiting for seller to get back to me on my offer.

I was wondering: I currently use RX6 fronts in my 5.1 setup. Would I be better replacing my RX6's with the RX2's as I have a sub as it is and use my RX6's with the Arcam A28 and cd player (when I get one)
Only thing is bedrooms a lot smaller than my cinema room :(
 

amcluesent

Well-known Member
Yep, speaker matching is key and the choice of speaker will totally eclipse any change to the CD player.

Also, choice of music - if you're listening to a dynamically compressed 'wall of noise' CD, then no hi-fi will make much of that source.

The Monitor Audio RX6 are also sold as AV speakers, so they may be "voiced" to suite AV Receiver amps (i.e. not very good)
 
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Member 116841

Distinguished Member
The RX6's are hi-fi speakers, but like most other hi-fi speakers, they are also sold in AV 'packages'.

Manufacturers do have a different sound, and it's down to personal preference as to which an individual will prefer. Some may dislike Cyrus and prefer a cheaper system, and another may love it. I do think more revealing speakers would show a larger difference between the three systems (I've not heard the Pioneer yet), as there's quite a difference between Cyrus and Arcam.
 

Arcam_boy

Distinguished Member
Pioneer PD-30 & Pioneer A-30 -
This sounded really good to me, bass sounded tight and fast, mid range was clear and times slightly heavy and the treble was crisp and sharp.

Arcam FMJ CD37 & FMJ A18 -
To my ears, the Arcam system just didn't have the powerful mid range the Pioneer expressed. It had a kinda flat sound almost like heavy bass and treble but nothing inbetween. The treble was a little clearer, maybe a little too over emphasised at times. The bass sounded clean too, infact it sounded very similar to the Pioneer.


Cyrus CD6 2SE & 6A Amp.

As soon as I hit play on the CD6, I noticed it had everything the Pioneer and Arcam had but it was a little more refined. The bass was solid, the mids that the arcam was hiding was back in the picture and treble was crisp, just right. Wasn't too high or sharp as the other too and it just seemed like it got the balance right however the actual sound overall sounded the same to me across all three systems.
I'm struggling to see how you can say they all sound the same. I have cut down your initial post slightly and left the bits in where you're describing the sound of each system. You describe how each one sounds different and then continue to say they all sound exactly the same.

As people have pointed out the Arcam A18 is only the baby amplifier so its not really going to be leagues ahead of either of the other two as 70% of the money was the cd player. Maybe try using the same source a slightly more revealing set of speakers and then trying a £600, £1300 and £1800 amp and seeing what the difference is.
 

cunny678

Distinguished Member
I tested some different kit for a friend of mines new set up a few years back. We tested the electronics from Cyrus and Roksan against the RX8, Dali Ikon 5 and a £1200 two way highly regarding floorstander the name of which eludes me at the moment. Of all the tests, it was the difference in speakers that made the biggest difference in the overall sound.

Although before the audition we both thought the RX8's would be the speakers we liked best, it was the Ikons which he dended up buying along with the Cyrus gear. The RX8's just sounded dull and lifeless which may be due to their extended bass repsonse compared to the others. I actually thought the mystery £1200 speakers sounded clinically the best but their bass response was not as good as the Dali's. I also really liked the way in which the ribbon speaker worked as it just sounded amazing (probably a marmite thing).

Anyway, my suggestion would be to go back and audition the same kit against some alternative speakers in the same price bracket and let us know what you think!

EDIT: Just remembered the other speaker was a Proac.
 
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GW43

Member
I think "Few" differences would be a better title for this thread, and I would tend to agree that differences are rarely "night and day", despite this being a common phrase thrown around.

Systems that initially sound impressive can be a bit excessive over longer periods of listening, and your home environment will also make a big difference. Only an extended period in your own home can tell you how any system will sound. Unfortunately, it's often impossible to trial equipment at home over an extended period.

It may be counter-intuitive, but it can sometimes be the least impressive sounding kit at first listen that actually has the better pedigree and may give longer term satisfaction.
 

amcluesent

Well-known Member
Of all the tests, it was the difference in speakers that made the biggest difference in the overall sound.
+1 If you can get to a 'bake off' or the Wigwam show and hear a bunch of systems, the variations due to speakers are immense.
 

discover

Well-known Member
I'm struggling to see how you can say they all sound the same. I have cut down your initial post slightly and left the bits in where you're describing the sound of each system. You describe how each one sounds different and then continue to say they all sound exactly the same.
They all sounded the same to me mate. The only difference I picked up was the difference in "tone" ie, too much or little treble/mids/low end.
Just because one system had more treble or mid, that doesn't mean it sounds "different". The overall sound quality was exactly the same, only difference being natively it was slightly emphasising the higher frequencies. One wasn't more laid back/aggressive than the other, they were the same!!
To my ears, I could get the same sound from a £600 system that I could get from a system costing £1800 that's all I was trying to say.
I know what I heard and I'll stand by that. Like I said in my first post, I didn't mean to criticise or offend anyone with any of the demoed kit, sorry If came along in that way.

Thanks for the wigwam info, I'll sure keep an eye out for that.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Your experience with the electronics is actually a lot more common than many here would have you believe, and my guess is that many of those here claiming huge differences couldn't tell once equalization (eliminating the tonal differences you did hear) was applied and they had to distinguish without extra-auditory input [dons flame suit, whilst continuing to buy the more expensive kit].

As others have said, your experience will likely be very different when you compare electromechanical transducers, specifically speakers.
 

robertseymour

Active Member
They all sounded the same to me mate. The only difference I picked up was the difference in "tone" ie, too much or little treble/mids/low end.
Just because one system had more treble or mid, that doesn't mean it sounds "different". The overall sound quality was exactly the same, only difference being natively it was slightly emphasising the higher frequencies. One wasn't more laid back/aggressive than the other, they were the same!!
To my ears, I could get the same sound from a £600 system that I could get from a system costing £1800 that's all I was trying to say.
I know what I heard and I'll stand by that. Like I said in my first post, I didn't mean to criticise or offend anyone with any of the demoed kit, sorry If came along in that way.

Thanks for the wigwam info, I'll sure keep an eye out for that.
Try to listen to a wider variety of kit, speakers especially :smashin:
 

Richy1984

Active Member
Very confusing thread IMO.

Like comparing 2 curries and saying they are EXACTLY the same, yet one is more spicy than the other! lol
 
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Member 116841

Distinguished Member
Different curries can have subtle differences, which to some people are actually quite large differences.

Your curry analogy sort of rings true in that people just concentrate on whether it is spicier or not - with music, some people just listen to the obvious sound that is in front of them - which has more treble or more bass - and never listen for subtleties or for anything else that is happening within the soundstage.
 

Ben Jammin

Active Member
Curry is a great analogy actually, never thought of that. Some prefer a cheap n nasty chicken tikka massala, others prefer a saffron infused masterpiece. No right or wrong..
 

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