Question Questions over Hi-Fi seperates vs Mini HiFi - Help please

DJTipster

Active Member
Afternoon all,

I have always been a fan of music. I love every kind of genre, and listen to it religiously.

Around 6 years ago I popped into my local Richer Sounds store and walked out with a mini hifi set up (budget conscious) of 1 x Pioneer XCHM51DAB (DAB, Radio, CD Player, Bluetooth) and a pair of Cambridge Audio SX60 speakers. To be fair I have really enjoyed the set up and it does sound good.

With my avid music love I have started to "think that I want" a separate hi-fi system instead of the mini hifi I have (although I still do think it is good)

My music sources are all pretty much Spotify and TuneIn radio now. I don't use anything else and so I Bluetooth to the Pioneer at the moment.

So I have been looking at these amplifiers -
Cambridge Audio AXR85 or
Cambridge Audio CXA61

And to pair with
Cambridge Audio CXN V2 Network Streamer

Am I going to see a massive difference between my mini hifi and this set up?

I want to hear the clarity of the music - like the drums/guitar/kicks/bass all kind of separately. Like I want to tell where the instrument is of that makes sense. Will get that with these amps over the Pioneer?

Bluetooth is in the amplifiers so would I really need the Network Streamer? What is the difference between Bluetooth vs Bluetooth aptxHD?

There are just so many questions!
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
What you feeling is acute upgradiatus. The what if part of the disease. I feel for you.

Separates have a lot of advantages over an all in one system. The amp itself is usually more powerful. It will only have it's own electronics within the chassis and so there is going to be a lot less interference. The CD player again is going to have it's own chassis and more than likely a better DAC. More room for the internals will again help with electrical interference.

The problem is the cost. Separates are going to cost you more, considerably more in some cases but for once the increase in cost is going to be reflected in overall performance. That's something that you are obviously aware of listing your preferences.

Now we come to speakers. You really don't want good separates to be coupled with a pair of £200 speakers. The speakers are perhaps the most important part of any set up closely followed by the room that they are going in.

Have you though about speakers?
 

DJTipster

Active Member
Thanks for the reply gibbsy. Haha yes it is a minefield and all I have thought about for the last few weeks!

Let's face it. I havent got thousands to spend but I do want a very decent set up. I'm just worried that having spent all the money I will it just won't sound any better than my Pioneer now. I know I probably should audition this first but given COVID its impossible at the moment.

In respect of speakers then yes. I know that I should not spend more on the kit than the speakers again adding to the cost. I have been looking at these speakers to replace the SX60's....

Dali Oberon 1
KEF Q150
B & W 607

You see i can save lots of money if I don't "need" the CXN V2. The CXA61 / AXR85 have both got standard Bluetooth built in to which I would BT Spotify to. Am I going to get the benefit of the CXN V2 as well? I know it is supposed to upscale the music but is that worth the £799 price tag when I'm only going to use Spotify and Internet radio?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Streaming and bluetooth is where I bow out. I have no idea, I have never listened to any streaming service apart from You Tube. Upscaling music is only going to be as good as the original mix, a poor recording is still going to sound poor no matter how you upscale it. I only use an SACD player for me music.

I would urge you to audition first and foremost. It's a lot of money to gamble away. Dealers like Richer Sounds are giving extended exchange period and as they are the CA dealer perhaps you should talk to them in the first instance. They also have the KEFs and Dali speakers, not sure about the B&W which would be my pick. The KEF Q350s with 20% off are a better speaker, with a more rounded performance over the others you've mentioned.
 

DJTipster

Active Member
Thanks again gibbsy. No worries on the streaming. You have helped me wade through a bit more confusion!

All the speakers I listed are at Richer Sounds. I will check out the Q350s mate.

My room is also questionable too...

So this set up is going in a 7m wide x 5m long kitchen / diner extension. Tiled flooring, lots of glass (bifolds). Is this room going to be utter pants for any of the speakers/amps I have mentioned?

Also what does the wattage mean? So for example the AXR85 is a 85watt amp. The 61 is 60watt amp. Does it basically mean it can louder? Sorry, I'm so new to this !
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
I wouldn't bother with the CXN if you're just going to BT Spotify. There are much cheaper options available that will do just as good - Yamaha WXAD-10 (MusicCast Add) review

Gives you more scope for better speakers as they'll determine what you can hear more then anything else. Both your listed amps will be good enough for speakers up to 1k or so.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
So this set up is going in a 7m wide x 5m long kitchen / diner extension. Tiled flooring, lots of glass (bifolds). Is this room going to be utter pants for any of the speakers/amps I have mentioned?
Yes. Placement will be crucial with a lot of reflective surfaces. I would now recommend the KEF Q350s because of the overall size of the room and the fact that the KEF UniQ design is slightly more forgiving of these type of rooms.

Also what does the wattage mean? So for example the AXR85 is a 85watt amp. The 61 is 60watt amp. Does it basically mean it can louder? Sorry, I'm so new to this !
More wattage equals more power. The number of the model with CA always reflect the total power output at 8 ohms of their amps. You will need the AXR85 minimum in that room. I would also look at the Yamaha amps on sale in RS as they are more powerful still.

 

DJTipster

Active Member
Wow thank you guys. To be honest I had seen a lot of Yamaha recommendations on the forums here but I have never really been "drawn" to them. I just keep thinking motorbikes 😂

After reading about the receiver and the WXAD10 it has thrown so much more into the mix.

I have got a pretty good list of things now from you guys and I will go and audition when I can and report back

Lat question (I think !) so you are saying for a room my size I am going to need power. Given the wife and kids in the house too they are never going to let me "blast" the music out like at a nightclub. That's not the sound I want either. Given the power it isn't going to be blasting all the time is it? I suppose im saying given all that power and wattage it wont be too overbearing will it?
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
@DJTipster : Just to clarify if you go with the RN803 you don't need the WXAD-10 as the streaming feature it provides is included in the RN803.

Also if powers not a big deal also consider the RN602 same unit lesser price and power (but still sounds great) and put the savings toward your speakers..
 

DJTipster

Active Member
Sorry that came across wrong - yeah I know that I don't need both mate. I have added the WXAD-10 to the list if I go for one of the Cambridge Audio amps.

If I go for the Yamaha amp I know I wont need it 👍

I see you have the B & W 607's in your kit list - are you very pleased with them? I think narrowing down speaker wise for me will be the 607's or the KEF Q350s as mentioned above by Gibbsy. Auditioning to come!
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
Very pleased with the 607's, got them just at lockdown with 25% so they were a bargain. The 606's were just on the large size for the room that my system's in.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
7 x 5m is a decent size and with hard floor and surfaces, you might have your work cut out with smaller speakers. Also given you need stands adding to the price, the Q550 at Richer for £660 would be likely the way I'd go.

B&W are usually described as bright, and is certainly my experience with the 700 series being very edgy even in a carpeted room, so I don't think they'll likely work in what might be a brighter sounding room. I'm not a massive fan of Monitor Audio Silver range generally, I found them too subdued, however they might be just the ticket in that room.

For what sounds like a roughly £2k budget (based on ~£800 streamer, ~£700 amp, and ~£500 speakers, under consideration).
As a curve ball, a set of KEF LS50W (currently at Richer for £1850) they're highly regarded and with onboard DSP could tame the room better than anything else mentioned. Appreciate it's not 'separates', but hey I did say curve ball right ;)
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
The speakers are perhaps the most important part of any set up closely followed by the room that they are going in.
I often find a good amp + modest speakers can sound a lot better than good speakers and a modest amp, especially if the speakers are larger/harder to drive.

With small standmount/bookshelf, then yes - can be better to favour the speakers for the detail as you probably wont have much bass to worry about anyway and probably not someone who cares much about it if you choose smaller speakers.
 

password1

Well-known Member
Yes it will be a massive step up.. you will hear sounds that you never heard from your all in one mini system.

Your music listening experience will be transform.

Does your current system sound like you have a live band in your room or the singer standing in front of you...
 

DJTipster

Active Member
Cheers for the replies guys. It has helped.

@TB Rich please don't throw any more solutions into the mix ! 😂

@password1 No mate, my mini hifi doesn't sound like that now, but then again I don't want it to sound like there is a live band in the room when I upgrade and get all this kit either. I just want a nice clear sound to listen to my array of music.

One final thing though, you get all sorts of adverts pop up as you know and I saw one for Pioneer. Does anyone have any knowledge of the Pioneer A-40AE or A-50DA or A-70DA.

I love my Pioneer amp for my home theatre (but it is only that and staying there too). I wonder if the seperate Pioneer amps as mentioned above are going to sound way over and above what my Pioneer mini hifi does 🤷‍♂️

As I said, I do like the sound of my Pioneer mini hi-fi but I want that bit "extra". I want to love the sound, not just like the sound if you know what I mean
 

RMCF

Distinguished Member
Yes it will be a massive step up.. you will hear sounds that you never heard from your all in one mini system.

Your music listening experience will be transform.

Does your current system sound like you have a live band in your room or the singer standing in front of you...
How much do you have to spend to get that type of quality?
 

password1

Well-known Member
Its possible to put together a very good £1-2k system and get a lot closer to but never match a live band. Having said that I think a decent sub £700 system sounds better than the cheap PA speakers used in some pubs and clubs for live music.
 

password1

Well-known Member
Be warned though of upgradititis. It can be expensive.

All music systems do the same job but the better the system the better the sound.

People with an all in one system will wonder what a hifi separates system will sound like.

People with a budget hifi system will wonder how much better a 'mid range' system will sound.

People with a 'mid range' system will wonder what a what a high end system will sound.

Once you hear and get used to a better system you wont want to downgrade because it will sound worse.

Its like moving from a black and white tv to a colour tv, then to hdr or 4k colour once you upgrade you dont want to go back.

Youll find how awful all in one systems will sound once you get used to the sound of a good well matched separates system. You'll feel the emotions in the music, be able to tell how hard piano keys are pressed, you'll hear yhe singer's breathe very clearly, you'll be able to pin point where singers and different instruments are, You'll hear sounds that an all in one system can't produce.
 

Paul7777x

Member
If you’re seriously thinking of spending close to two grand then I wouldn’t faff about with cheap stuff, I’d go for something exceptional for your money.


A top class amp, originally £2500 and, Uber crucially, it has DiracLive.

Any and all room issues dealt with straight away.

Then I’d go for serious speaker that will astonish, and continue to do so for as long as you keep them.

Therefore, used, or ex-dem is the way to go.

A pair of any of these will wow you.




 
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Paul7777x

Member
Also, please! Don’t take this as a pompous insult, far from it; the current thing you have playing music is merely a toy. The pioneer should be merely mocked.

The Cambridge speakers are great budget speakers and could either be sold or re-used in another room.
 

DJTipster

Active Member
Great, thank you for the info Paul ! Very helpful. I'd say "ideally" in terms of "budget", I would want to spend about £1,600. I think that's where I am at. Don't forget I am going from a much lower priced mini hi-fi system to this and so will be my first proper set up so I dont want to spend £thousands... however if you are saying go for the much higher rated amp in the SR250 and spend that extra £400, then I cannot baulk at that cost saving from the RRP. It is truly an unbelievable saving, and an amp now which has been added to my shortlist.

So @Paul7777x - secondly, no offence taken at all on the Pioneer toy comment. With you saying that was the icing on the cake to confirm that yes - I will get a much better sound experience from separates vs my current mini h-fi.

Thank you again for looking at speakers for me. (Here is where the big BUT comes in) As this set up is going in our kitchen diner extension the Mrs has categorically said a big no to floorstanding speakers. She is fine with me having standmount speakers as we have now. In that case what standmount speakers should I be looking at? @gibbsy spoke about the KEF Q350's and @Ascotbilly rated the B&W 607/606 speakers very highly so these ones are on my shortlist at the moment.

Lastly, when you say "don't faff around with cheap stuff" do you mean the other Pioneer amps I listed, or the Cambridge Audio amps I listed at the start?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
You'll have to tell your missus that if you put standmounts in the room then to be able to get the best out of them they will have to be placed on stands. These stands will have the same footprint as floorstanding speakers.

I think the time has come for you to post a photograph of your preferred positioning of the speakers so that better advice may be given.
 

DJTipster

Active Member
She is going to go spare mate...I know what she is going to say 😂

Ok.....pics below - please dont judge me - I'm new to this !! 😂 Also don't question the TV size! Its being upgraded as we speak! The extension is only a few months old you see so had to make do with what we have had for a little bit.

We are getting a corner sofa so imagine the corner sofa one side to face the back garden bifolds and the other side of the corner to face the TV. Ideally I am looking at either keeping the set up exactly where it is now in the middle of the room on the wall, or move it to the corner underneath the TV in the "snug" area...see what you guys think...tried to get as many angles as i could

20200702_092949.jpg
20200702_093005.jpg
20200702_093032.jpg
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Thanks for putting up the photographs, far more informative than just a written description. It's easy to see your audio problems starting with the most serious, young children. You have to consider the safety of the children and the desire to keep speakers away from prying fingers. For the moment I would steer clear of floorstanding speakers.

The second aspect your photograph shows is that the room itself is a nightmare for good audio. It's just full of highly reflective surfaces. Stone floor, bare walls and acres of glass. I doubt very much that unless you went with an amp that has room corrections like Room Perfect that you are going to get any substantial improvement in audio quality. Lyngdorf are accomplished amps with RP but are very expensive.

I would not spend a lot of money unless, conversely you are prepaired to spend a lot of money, just keep it simple. For speakers I suggest that the KEF Q350s you can use you stands with those and the UniQ drivers are somewhat forgiving of a reflective room. Getting a powerful amp isn't going to bring any benefits as the harder you drive it the worse it is more likely to sound.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
In your first post you say you listen to music religiously. Does this mean that you are listening on your own, or do you sit down as a family and listen together, or given the room that your kit is in is it more or less background music.

If indeed you do listen to a lot on your own there is a foolproof way of taking that bare room out of the equation......headphones. Network streamer, possibly with CDP built in, good headphone amp and a pair of headphones. Your music is going to sound marvellous and you could retain your current kit for that background purpose.

Just a thought.
 

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