Speaker & Amp upgrade advice. Large open planned room.

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Speaker & Amp upgrade advice. Large open planned room.

Hi there, first time posting a question on the forum (although I have been reading extensively for the last few weeks).

I’d appreciate some advice. I am about to upgrade my amp as my 25 year old Marantz finally packed in and update my similarly old Eltax Symphony 6 speakers.
The system will be going into an 8m wide open plan room, with a wall that half divides it (open plan living room, come dining room, come study). Basically 4x4.5m and the other bit is 4x3.5m (I’ll try and add pictures to help it make sense). The floor is thick laminate throughout with a couple of rugs, two large picture windows, stuff everywhere and pictures on all the walls!

The speakers can be placed a couple of metres apart, probably with the windows behind them, but in reality placement can never be optimal (mostly because we also have a wood burner and the discussion about moving stuff to create space for a new set up has already caused some squabbling).

So with all that in mind, I have a budget of around £1200 (plus a little extra for some magic speaker cable) and my research has lead me to look at:

Speakers:
Dali Oberon 5’s
B&W 606 S2 Anniversary
Q Acoustics 3050i

Amp:
Rega Brio
Audiolab 6000a
Cambridge Audio cxa61

I have a small vinyl collection and a vast cd collection. We also use Spotify (from Apple devices). Current equipment is my ancient Marantz 67SE CD player and a Sony TT. Music tastes are best described as eclectic, from jazz to folk/Americana, pop, electronica, contemporary classical music, basically anything.

Unfortunately it is not very easy to go and test out any kit where I live so the purchases will be blind. Plus I’m not sure with the shape and content of my room how useful listening to how things sound in a purpose built booth would be.

If possible can anyone comment/advise on whether what I’ve listed are reasonable choices?
Perhaps what would be most forgiving regarding placement issues, room size etc Whether any particular amp/speakers complement each other (or am I barking up the wrong tree?).
And will my old CD player be compatible? (if not any recommendations/comments would be much appreciated)

Basically I’d like to return to being absorbed by the music again, something that is lacking from streamed music through iMac speakers. Sorry if that’s overkill on the detail (and post length). Thanks in advance.
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gava

Active Member
First thought... Oh wow. Where could you put the speakers?

Here's how I'd spend £1,200


I have a liking for Q Acoustics speakers...


Or


Or


And £10 for some Amazon basics speaker cable. :)
 
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Onlythesound

Active Member
To Speakers, add the Q Acoustics Concept 40 and to amps, the Musical Fidelity M2si is worth a shout.
Save money by not spending a lot on Speaker wire which will do nothing to improve sound.
if you need a Bluetooth unit, there are plenty around.
 

Onlythesound

Active Member
First thought... Oh wow. Where could you put the speakers?

Here's how I'd spend £1,200


I have a liking for Q Acoustics speakers but...


Or

Agree with Denon DRA 800h. I have one!
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
To Speakers, add the Q Acoustics Concept 40 and to amps, the Musical Fidelity M2si is worth a shout.
Save money by not spending a lot on Speaker wire which will do nothing to improve sound.
if you need a Bluetooth unit, there are plenty around.
Thanks, with regard to speaker cable I was going to follow the suggestion of others on this forum and just go for something by Kabeldirect. But appreciate the comment, before looking on here I probably would have wasted money unnecessarily. For Bluetooth I was thinking the ifi zen blue? Also the m2si has no phono stage. Would that mean purchasing an extra piece of kit to use a TT?
 
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Castofthousands

Standard Member
First thought... Oh wow. Where could you put the speakers?

Here's how I'd spend £1,200


I have a liking for Q Acoustics speakers...


Or


Or


And £10 for some Amazon basics speaker cable. :)
I know. It’s not exactly a minimalist space and the dusting is a nightmare. I was just reading about the 40’s as they’re not that much more than the 3050i’s. I’ll read up on the amps now. Cheers.
 

gava

Active Member

Castofthousands

Standard Member
That Ifi zen blue is well regarded and so is the Yamaha WXAD-10 adapter. Yamaha WXAD-10 MusicCast Wireless Streaming Adapter - Wireless Accessories - AV Online - UK Home Cinema and Hifi Specialists

However I’m not sure that its Bluetooth level reaches Apt X.
The Denon is a great amp. I use it with two pairs of speakers for films. One pair for music. As @gava says, solid; Great value and great sound.
Thanks both for the advice on the Denon. I am unlikely to make use of any connections to the tv, so for purely listening to music, how would it compare to something like the Brio or the m2si which are slightly more expensive with less features?
 

gava

Active Member
But then you spend less on speakers. I reckon try to spend 2/3 of your budget on speakers.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
If I was to stretch the speaker budget a little, would the ELAC Debut F6.2 be worth considering? And be okay in the 8x4m room?
 

Onlythesound

Active Member
Or….buy the Brio or the M2si, probably get a better sound (remember room dynamics though!); still save on that speaker wire and bust your budget by buying more expensive speakers.
I have to say that I haven’t heard these two amps and different speaker/amp combinations can be open a Pandora’s box of sonic disappointments :(.
If you can, try to get a trial at home arrangement with someone like Richer Sounds or Sevenoaks.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Or….buy the Brio or the M2si, probably get a better sound (remember room dynamics though!); still save on that speaker wire and bust your budget by buying more expensive speakers.
I have to say that I haven’t heard these two amps and different speaker/amp combinations can be open a Pandora’s box of sonic disappointments :(.
If you can, try to get a trial at home arrangement with someone like Richer Sounds or Sevenoaks.
Great. Thanks for the advice. I will try and find somewhere to go and listen (or preferably get a home trial) with a couple of those combinations. The m2si sounds like a great amp, I only have the reservation of needing further equipment and over stretching my budget. But that’s something I have to wrestle with myself.
 

gava

Active Member
Unfortunately there's no sensible upper limit to how much you might be tempted to stretch by.

I do think though with your budget you can comfortably get into the territory that you will have something that sounds really very nice and allows you to once again really enjoy music.

Look up some reviews of the speakers in the 700-800 range - there should be plenty on youtube. Check out ASR too - just in case he has reviewed them and can warn you away from some things you probably shouldn't buy like the B&W 606 - he really slammed those.

Also I think that shopping for bargains is especially good in the sensible price range you are looking at. e.g. the Concept 40 are £300 below where they were recently as they are now end of line.

For your sized room you will need a subwoofer if you are going with bookshelf designs, so I would go for some floorstanders with a decent sized woofer and avoid that problem.

I haven't heard the m2si, but I also have a Musical Fidelity amp on my shortlist for my next upgrade. I'm not sure I've ever seen a bad review of anything they make.

Make sure you have enough power for the speakers you choose as your room is not small. Try to choose a speaker with around 90dB sensitivity if you can and make sure the amp is 70W per channel at least, because there are times when we all need to "turn up that song". :)
 
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Onlythesound

Active Member
Notwithstanding all of the suggestions above, one of my speaker pairs IS the B&W 606 (mk1). I’ve never had cause to give them anything but praise. They’re a perfect partner for the Denon DRA 800 h.
Happy hunting !
 

gava

Active Member
Notwithstanding all of the suggestions above, one of my speaker pairs IS the B&W 606 (mk1). I’ve never had cause to give them anything but praise.

Which is why a range of opinions is important. ASR has their particular preference - everything should sound "reference". Any speakers which deviate from the target are bad and should not be trusted.

Their view is that the only job of all the electronics and speakers is to accurately reproduce the source material with as little noise or distortion as possible.

They have a point, but the end game is whether you like the sound or not and how the music sounds is perhaps even more important than whether the speaker gives a flat response.

A lot of people really like the B&W signature sound - otherwise they wouldn't sell so many speakers and get so many good reviews.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Which is why a range of opinions is important. ASR has their particular preference - everything should sound "reference". Any speakers which deviate from the target are bad and should not be trusted.

Their view is that the only job of all the electronics and speakers is to accurately reproduce the source material with as little noise or distortion as possible.

They have a point, but the end game is whether you like the sound or not and how the music sounds is perhaps even more important than whether the speaker gives a flat response.

A lot of people really like the B&W signature sound - otherwise they wouldn't sell so many speakers and get so many good reviews.
Thanks Gava,

What or who is ASR? Excuse my ignorance.

In terms of the amp, you suggest at least 70W per channel. Perhaps my budget for the size of my room is not realistically big enough? Or am I looking at the wrong amps in the £500-600 price range. Speaker wise there appears plenty of choice recommended by multiple sources between £600-800. where I’m struggling is with an amp in the previous mentioned budget range that with provides me what I need.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Unfortunately there's no sensible upper limit to how much you might be tempted to stretch by.

I do think though with your budget you can comfortably get into the territory that you will have something that sounds really very nice and allows you to once again really enjoy music.

Look up some reviews of the speakers in the 700-800 range - there should be plenty on youtube. Check out ASR too - just in case he has reviewed them and can warn you away from some things you probably shouldn't buy like the B&W 606 - he really slammed those.

Also I think that shopping for bargains is especially good in the sensible price range you are looking at. e.g. the Concept 40 are £300 below where they were recently as they are now end of line.

For your sized room you will need a subwoofer if you are going with bookshelf designs, so I would go for some floorstanders with a decent sized woofer and avoid that problem.

I haven't heard the m2si, but I also have a Musical Fidelity amp on my shortlist for my next upgrade. I'm not sure I've ever seen a bad review of anything they make.

Make sure you have enough power for the speakers you choose as your room is not small. Try to choose a speaker with around 90dB sensitivity if you can and make sure the amp is 70W per channel at least, because there are times when we all need to "turn up that song". :)
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
Some great suggestions for a very nice passive stereo setup but there is another way to assemble a great stereo system and it would be remiss of me if I didn't mention it: an active speaker based system.

Gava mentioned ASR in post#17. Did you take a look at the ASR speaker reviews preference ratings? If so, you may have noticed that five out of the top seven highest rated speakers were active designs. That said, it's just someone's opinion after all so beware in placing too much importance to it.

I don't know if you're familiar with active speakers (I'm not talking about powered passives) but if not, definitely worth checking out at this stage because system architecture is quite different and this could be the ideal moment to consider a move over to actives designs which tend to offer better sound-per-pound than an equivalent passive setup - that's my opinion having used both passive and active systems over the decades. I think it's fair to say that most people consider active speakers to be a superior technology to passive speakers - but not all. Have a Google and see for yourself.

It's often tricky to gauge a listening room that opens into a larger space. However, from your photos, I'd suggest you consider the listening space to be just the 18 sqm room and choose a speaker that's appropriately sized for such a room. This is because I think the room is sufficiently enclosed to be treated as a room in it's own right. Just my opinion, could be wrong as I've no experience of using playback gear in such spaces. IMO, suitably sized speakers to give an accurate tonal balance in rooms around 15 to 25 sqm are standmount speakers with 6 -7 " bass/mid drivers in ported cabinets. It's no coincidence that such speakers are, allegedly, the most popular sized speaker for serious listening in UK living rooms. I personally think speakers the size of the Q Acoustics 3050i are likely to sound bass-heavy in your room.

A preamp is necessary when using active speakers. This is a well-received example of a streaming pre-amp:
(this would work fine only if the CD player has an optical output. Alternative pre-amps with more inputs are available - though they may not stream).

I see you have a Sony TT - does this have an inbuilt phono pre-amp? If not, a stand-alone phono pre-amp will be required. Many available but this is one of the better ones:
Amazon product
This leaves around £800 for active speakers + stands. Here are some well-reviewed examples:

(note that actives are often sold/priced as single items)

Some of the above speakers, and others, are reviewed here:
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Some great suggestions for a very nice passive stereo setup but there is another way to assemble a great stereo system and it would be remiss of me if I didn't mention it: an active speaker based system.

Gava mentioned ASR in post#17. Did you take a look at the ASR speaker reviews preference ratings? If so, you may have noticed that five out of the top seven highest rated speakers were active designs. That said, it's just someone's opinion after all so beware in placing too much importance to it.

I don't know if you're familiar with active speakers (I'm not talking about powered passives) but if not, definitely worth checking out at this stage because system architecture is quite different and this could be the ideal moment to consider a move over to actives designs which tend to offer better sound-per-pound than an equivalent passive setup - that's my opinion having used both passive and active systems over the decades. I think it's fair to say that most people consider active speakers to be a superior technology to passive speakers - but not all. Have a Google and see for yourself.

It's often tricky to gauge a listening room that opens into a larger space. However, from your photos, I'd suggest you consider the listening space to be just the 18 sqm room and choose a speaker that's appropriately sized for such a room. This is because I think the room is sufficiently enclosed to be treated as a room in it's own right. Just my opinion, could be wrong as I've no experience of using playback gear in such spaces. IMO, suitably sized speakers to give an accurate tonal balance in rooms around 15 to 25 sqm are standmount speakers with 6 -7 " bass/mid drivers in ported cabinets. It's no coincidence that such speakers are, allegedly, the most popular sized speaker for serious listening in UK living rooms. I personally think speakers the size of the Q Acoustics 3050i are likely to sound bass-heavy in your room.

A preamp is necessary when using active speakers. This is a well-received example of a streaming pre-amp:
(this would work fine only if the CD player has an optical output. Alternative pre-amps with more inputs are available - though they may not stream).

I see you have a Sony TT - does this have an inbuilt phono pre-amp? If not, a stand-alone phono pre-amp will be required. Many available but this is one of the better ones:
Amazon product
This leaves around £800 for active speakers + stands. Here are some well-reviewed examples:

(note that actives are often sold/priced as single items)

Some of the above speakers, and others, are reviewed here:
Hi, thanks. This isn’t an area I’d thought of or looked at. I will check out some of the speakers you have listed.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
If you decide to stay the passive route it might be an idea to buy the amp first and see how the speakers go.

I was given a pair of older floorstander speakers recently. I didn't think much of them (had them hooked up to an old av receiver). I bought an amp and ordered speakers (blind I may add). I tried the floorstanders as a stop gap and pretty much immediately cancelled my speaker order. Just because they are old doesn't mean they are not still great.

Your marantz packed it in, did you like it? If so go marantz again, the signature sound will likely be similar, but you get a modern version
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Hi there,

Yes, it made some nasty noises, then eventually just didnt turn on. My children managed to wreck the speakers over the years, so they just need to go. I’m currently looking at a second hand pair of concept speakers and being drawn toward the cxa61 amp.
 

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