Speaker & Amp upgrade advice. Large open planned room.

gava

Active 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.
The general problem I have with active studio monitors in this price range is three-fold:
  1. They mostly tend to be nearfield optimised, so you need to consider that in a larger space.
  2. Therefore they often need a sub if you are going to use them in a larger space.
  3. They are often utilitarian in their design - robustness is prioritised over aesthetics.
I do agree however that they are a solution that should always be considered.

Possibly just slightly out of budget but I like these a lot however - they look good, have a lot of controls and are big enough and are designed for and have enough bass to fill a larger space. If you consider the total amplification built into the two speakers it is 105W per channel optimised for the drivers.


And adding a controller of course.


Stands will be required and a few quid for cables... total would be in the 1,300 range plus stands so maybe 1400 altogether which is a bit over budget.

But I'm sure this setup would sound great.
 

password1

Distinguished Member
Forget the 3050i and go for the superior concept 40.

The speakers aren't fussy with the amp so any decent powerful amp or 2 will work as long as it gives a clean detailed signal. Choose amp to suit your taste.

An Arcam A85 and matching power amp should work and be loud enough.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Forget the 3050i and go for the superior concept 40.

The speakers aren't fussy with the amp so any decent powerful amp or 2 will work as long as it gives a clean detailed signal. Choose amp to suit your taste.

An Arcam A85 and matching power amp should work and be loud enough.
Thanks for that,
As a starter would a Cambridge Audio cxa61 give me enough power to run them properly. Again excuse my ignorance, but could I add a separate power amp at a later point? If so what would match well?
 

password1

Distinguished Member
If the cxa61 have pre outs then a power amp can be added. the cxa61 on its own is plenty powerful enough and within the concept 40s quoted range. i wouldn't pay too much attention to quoted power ratings.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
If the cxa61 have pre outs then a power amp can be added. the cxa61 on its own is plenty powerful enough and within the concept 40s quoted range. i wouldn't pay too much attention to quoted power ratings.
That’s really helpful. Trying to stay in budget, but may add extras at a later date.
 

Onlythesound

Active Member
What…the speakers or the children….?:laugh:


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.
 

gava

Active Member
So the CXA61 is £750.

Instead I would much rather have the

  • Yamaha WXC50 pre-amp & streamer for £270
  • Behringer A800 for £190
Total £480 and a much better setup IMO. I don't think you can do better for anything like the same price.

I couldn't find a SINAD measurement for the CXA61, but the CXA81 measured 83dB compared to the A800 of 77dB. Given that you are much more likely to clip the CXA61 I would much rather have the high powered commercial amp with a good streamer/pre-amp. I reckon it will sound much better overall.



Add a pair of Concept 40s and you will have something very cool and exactly hit the £1,200 budget. :)
 

Onlythesound

Active Member
So the CXA61 is £750.

Instead I would much rather have the

  • Yamaha WXC50 pre-amp & streamer for £270
  • Behringer A800 for £190
Total £480 and a much better setup IMO. I don't think you can do better for anything like the same price.

I couldn't find a SINAD measurement for the CXA61, but the CXA81 measured 83dB compared to the A800 of 77dB. Given that you are much more likely to clip the CXA61 I would much rather have the high powered commercial amp with a good streamer/pre-amp. I reckon it will sound much better overall.



Add a pair of Concept 40s and you will have something very cool and exactly hit the £1,200 budget. :)
To me, that set up makes great sense and no reason why you shouldn’t get great sound from it (room conditions allowing of course !)
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
So the CXA61 is £750.

Instead I would much rather have the

  • Yamaha WXC50 pre-amp & streamer for £270
  • Behringer A800 for £190
Total £480 and a much better setup IMO. I don't think you can do better for anything like the same price.

I couldn't find a SINAD measurement for the CXA61, but the CXA81 measured 83dB compared to the A800 of 77dB. Given that you are much more likely to clip the CXA61 I would much rather have the high powered commercial amp with a good streamer/pre-amp. I reckon it will sound much better overall.



Add a pair of Concept 40s and you will have something very cool and exactly hit the £1,200 budget. :)
Right Gava,
I’ve got a second hand pair of Concept 40’s from the classifieds off here. One year old, £400. That meant I was going to spend £675 on the cxa61 (Richer Sounds did bit of a discount) and some cable and bananas bringing the spend in around £1100.

However, any recommendations then for the type of combination you highlight, if you had £700-750 to spend? Bearing in mind I’d really like the quality of sound from the amp to be as good as possible (it seams the reviews talk of ‘space’ etc, not sure if this is all BS, but won’t I don’t want to do is sacrifice sound quality/music production for power).

Thanks
 

gava

Active Member
Heck I'm not sure.

Amps can have a sound. But IMO the A800 doesn't. It's neutral - doesn't sound like anything just delivers a ton of power.

I have heard the CXA61 a few times in store and never been blown away. It always sounded a bit weak to me. But I never heard it with those speakers, it might be fine.

If an amp is underpowered that really can be an issue for dynamics.

In an integrated amp a lot of the sound signature comes from the pre-amp stage and the Yamaha apparently sound very nice. I have always enjoyed their sound.

But the CXA61 might be brilliant with the 40s.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Cheers, pondered this one as it has 70-75w, but is limited.
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
Heck I'm not sure.

Amps can have a sound. But IMO the A800 doesn't. It's neutral - doesn't sound like anything just delivers a ton of power.

I have heard the CXA61 a few times in store and never been blown away. It always sounded a bit weak to me. But I never heard it with those speakers, it might be fine.

If an amp is underpowered that really can be an issue for dynamics.

In an integrated amp a lot of the sound signature comes from the pre-amp stage and the Yamaha apparently sound very nice. I have always enjoyed their sound.

But the CXA61 might be brilliant with the 40s.
Okay, thanks, that’s worth knowing
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
The general problem I have with active studio monitors in this price range is three-fold:
  1. They mostly tend to be nearfield optimised, so you need to consider that in a larger space.
  2. Therefore they often need a sub if you are going to use them in a larger space.
  3. They are often utilitarian in their design - robustness is prioritised over aesthetics.

I agree with your point three but not points one and two.

Many years ago, I looked into the subject of using nearfield monitors for hifi listening at "normal" hifi listening distances of around 2 to 4 metres because I too was wary of the nearfield label. "Nearfield" seems to imply that the design is optimised for listening distances of around 1 to 1.5 metres. However, I could find no design elements in any active nearfield studio monitor speaker that made it more suitable for listening nearfield rather than at a greater distance. True, most nearfield speakers are not huge because, in professional use, they tend to be perched atop a mixing desk or similar. The largest active monitors that are labelled "nearfield" tend to have 8" bass or bass/mid drivers which is similar in size to the larger conventional passive standmounts like the Monitor Audio Silver 100. If you need a larger active, there are always midfield and farfield options though most are way over the OP's budget.

Just about all reputable speaker designers, both traditional hifi and studio monitoring, aim for a flat(ish) frequency response at a listening distance of 1 metre so it could be argued that all decent speakers are designed for nearfield listening. Increase the listening distance and the room effect increases which typically results in a slightly tilted frequency response favouring the bass end (though this is room dependent) and affects all speakers.

Active speakers offer many technological and, IMO, sound quality benefits over their passive counterparts at all price points. The physical size of many active nearfields may lead one to think a subwoofer is necessary but actives often have a more extended bass than their passive equivalents due to electronic bass management. This typically involves subsonic filtering - to avoid wasting amp power and overloading the speaker at frequencies it cannot reproduce - and sometimes a slight bass boost/EQ too. This results in actives often sounding bigger than passive equivalents.

Also, the crossover in passive speakers suffers from insertion loss. This varies depending on the crossover but, evidently, 2 or 3dB power losses are not uncommon. In active speakers, the power amplifiers are connected directly to the drive units so not only is this a better use of amp power but the amp damping factor is optimized giving excellent bass control (one of the reasons why all good subs are active).

Final point - those who have used both passive and active systems extensively will know that a typical active speaker plays louder and cleaner than similarly sized passive designs, though I'm sure there will be the odd exception.

I appreciate the OP has now opted for a traditional passive setup (and there's nothing wrong with that) so my comments on the benefit of active speakers will not be helpful to him/her but I wanted to dispel the myth that active nearfield monitor speakers aren't suitable for typical domestic situations. And I've barely touched on active speaker sound quality benefits or the excellent value for money they offer!
 

muljao

Well-known Member
So you're buying or bought the q acoustics?

Don't get rattled too much by watts. Some amps do better than others, Nad for example are known to quote modest wattage figures they are powerful because they can continuously supply when needed. That musical fidelity ms2i at 75watts is supposed to be great.

Any decent amp above 30 watts will run them q acoustics no problems, if it's a proper 30 watts
 

Castofthousands

Standard Member
So you're buying or bought the q acoustics?

Don't get rattled too much by watts. Some amps do better than others, Nad for example are known to quote modest wattage figures they are powerful because they can continuously supply when needed. That musical fidelity ms2i at 75watts is supposed to be great.

Any decent amp above 30 watts will run them q acoustics no problems, if it's a proper 30 watts
Hopefully picking up the speakers tomorrow. I’m not precious about things being brand new.
With regards to the power it wasn’t something I’d worried about. Others had spoken about it. I’m not so worried about listening to music very loud, more important is the quality of the sound.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Hopefully picking up the speakers tomorrow. I’m not precious about things being brand new.
With regards to the power it wasn’t something I’d worried about. Others had spoken about it. I’m not so worried about listening to music very loud, more important is the quality of the sound.
Power can help here also as it can sometimes hold more control over the speakers.
You have many suggestions from earlier, I think these speakers are a very good buy, should be very slightly warm side of neutral, very easy to partner with them.
 

gava

Active Member
Sorry, what about the Marantz PM700n and add a power amp later if I need any more watts? Possible second hand purchase!

TLDR:
If someone stole my PM7000N I would take the CXA50 + A800 combo instead of replacing it.

============

I have a Marantz PM7000N driving my lounge system - which is (as per my sig) Q Acoustics Concept 300s + a stereo pair of REL T5i (sub)woofers. The T5i isn't really a "proper" sub but it does a great job augmenting a bookshelf speaker from the 35-75Hz range, and once you get the crossover right the system sounds brilliant.

The RELs are using the high-level input with the crossover set at around 75Hz - effectively turning the speaker + sub into a 3-way speaker split into 2 boxes per channel. If I turn off the subs then the Marantz doesn't have enough power to make me happy. Each of the subs has its own 125W amplifier.

Previously I was using KEF LS50s with single sub.

But my current speakers have a similar sensitivity to yours, and yours have the extra woofer onboard. I think the Marantz would be fine - and so too will the CXA61 - which is rated essentially the same as the PM7000N.

It struggled a fair bit with the LS50s without the sub though - 84dB sensitivity was too low in my view for a 60-80W amp. Of course not all the time at normal or soft volumes - probably for most listening I don't actually use more than 20-30W but your main listening position looks like it will be across the room possibly at 7m from the speakers so I think you are going to need more power.

Working from home after work finishes and at the weekends I sometimes like to really push up the volume for a while - always before 8pm in the evening and often on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon - sometimes only for few songs. It's really fun - the SO sometimes turns up and just starts dancing around the room enjoying the "nightclub" volume levels. It's like she's 18 again. Those are the times when the extra power is great. It probably doesn't account for more than1 percent of the time I spend listening to the system, but I would miss it if I couldn't do it.

The Marantz is a really nice amplifier - I like it a lot, it's apparently quite a bargain - they have allegedly taken parts they normally put in their more expensive amplifiers and magnanimously shoved them into this "budget" (gulp) system. It sounds fab.

It has one terrible flaw however - there is no pre-out, so you quite specifically cannot add extra power if you ever want to.

Once my credit card recovers from the speakers however I am looking for one (hopefully) final upgrade on the amp side.
 
Last edited:

gava

Active Member
I agree with your point three but not points one and two.

Many years ago, I looked into the subject of using nearfield monitors for hifi listening at "normal" hifi listening distances of around 2 to 4 metres because I too was wary of the nearfield label. "Nearfield" seems to imply that the design is optimised for listening distances of around 1 to 1.5 metres. However, I could find no design elements in any active nearfield studio monitor speaker that made it more suitable for listening nearfield rather than at a greater distance. True, most nearfield speakers are not huge because, in professional use, they tend to be perched atop a mixing desk or similar. The largest active monitors that are labelled "nearfield" tend to have 8" bass or bass/mid drivers which is similar in size to the larger conventional passive standmounts like the Monitor Audio Silver 100. If you need a larger active, there are always midfield and farfield options though most are way over the OP's budget.

Just about all reputable speaker designers, both traditional hifi and studio monitoring, aim for a flat(ish) frequency response at a listening distance of 1 metre so it could be argued that all decent speakers are designed for nearfield listening. Increase the listening distance and the room effect increases which typically results in a slightly tilted frequency response favouring the bass end (though this is room dependent) and affects all speakers.

Active speakers offer many technological and, IMO, sound quality benefits over their passive counterparts at all price points. The physical size of many active nearfields may lead one to think a subwoofer is necessary but actives often have a more extended bass than their passive equivalents due to electronic bass management. This typically involves subsonic filtering - to avoid wasting amp power and overloading the speaker at frequencies it cannot reproduce - and sometimes a slight bass boost/EQ too. This results in actives often sounding bigger than passive equivalents.

Also, the crossover in passive speakers suffers from insertion loss. This varies depending on the crossover but, evidently, 2 or 3dB power losses are not uncommon. In active speakers, the power amplifiers are connected directly to the drive units so not only is this a better use of amp power but the amp damping factor is optimized giving excellent bass control (one of the reasons why all good subs are active).

Final point - those who have used both passive and active systems extensively will know that a typical active speaker plays louder and cleaner than similarly sized passive designs, though I'm sure there will be the odd exception.

I appreciate the OP has now opted for a traditional passive setup (and there's nothing wrong with that) so my comments on the benefit of active speakers will not be helpful to him/her but I wanted to dispel the myth that active nearfield monitor speakers aren't suitable for typical domestic situations. And I've barely touched on active speaker sound quality benefits or the excellent value for money they offer!

A response worthy of its own thread I feel. :)
 
Last edited:

Castofthousands

Standard Member
TLDR:
If someone stole my PM7000N I would take the CXA50 + A800 combo instead of replacing it.

============

I have a Marantz PM7000N driving my lounge system - which is (as per my sig) Q Acoustics Concept 300s + a stereo pair of REL T5i (sub)woofers. The T5i isn't really a "proper" sub but it does a great job augmenting a bookshelf speaker from the 35-75Hz range, and once you get the crossover right the system sounds brilliant.

The RELs are using the high-level input with the crossover set at around 75Hz - effectively turning the speaker + sub into a 3-way speaker split into 2 boxes per channel. If I turn off the subs then the Marantz doesn't have enough power to make me happy. Each of the subs has its own 125W amplifier.

Previously I was using KEF LS50s with single sub.

But my current speakers have a similar sensitivity to yours, and yours have the extra woofer onboard. I think the Marantz would be fine - and so too will the CXA61 - which is rated essentially the same as the PM7000N.

It struggled a fair bit with the LS50s without the sub though - 84dB sensitivity was too low in my view for a 60-80W amp. Of course not all the time at normal or soft volumes - probably for most listening I don't actually use more than 20-30W but your main listening position looks like it will be across the room possibly at 7m from the speakers so I think you are going to need more power.

Working from home after work finishes and at the weekends I sometimes like to really push up the volume for a while - always before 8pm in the evening and often on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon - sometimes only for few songs. It's really fun - the SO sometimes turns up and just starts dancing around the room enjoying the "nightclub" volume levels. It's like she's 18 again. Those are the times when the extra power is great. It probably doesn't account for more than1 percent of the time I spend listening to the system, but I would miss it if I couldn't do it.

The Marantz is a really nice amplifier - I like it a lot, it's apparently quite a bargain - they have allegedly taken parts they normally put in their more expensive amplifiers and magnanimously shoved them into this "budget" (gulp) system. It sounds fab.

It has one terrible flaw however - there is no pre-out, so you quite specifically cannot add extra power if you ever want to.

Once my credit card recovers from the speakers however I am looking for one (hopefully) final upgrade on the amp side.
Hi Gava, sage advice.
I’m slightly more drawn to the Marantz as it’s what I’ve owned before. Never had CA, so unsure. The 7000 seems to tick all the boxes and second hand coupled with the 40’s brings me way under budget and leaves me with a couple of hundred for a CD player if the old 67SE has died from gathering dust!
If down the line I feel I need a little extra power I could possibly add a sub or trade & upgrade the Marantz, because as you point out, I can’t add a power amp.
Again, many thanks for all the info.
 

nickdun

Standard Member
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.
I home auditioned the 3050i’s a few years back and didnt like them … couldn’t get them back to the dealer fast enough … I went for Monitor Audio Silvers with Arcam amp … was happy with them till I moved and did an upgrade to suit a bigger room
 

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