Stereo upgrade suggestions

silverbackben

Standard Member
Hi there,

new member and fairly inexperienced hi-fi owner!

I have the following setup:
Kenwood KRF-V7010
KEF Q35 standing speakers
Onkyo DX-C390
Regar Planar One

I was wondering if anyone can recommend a better preowned receiver to look in to? I’m thinking the Kenwood might be overkill for my set up (it being surround sound and such) and there might be a better old amplifier.

Any suggestions for receiver or speaker upgrades welcome :)

thanks
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
When you say you want a receiver do you mean you want to use an am/fm radio? Or is it because you have that as a function of the AVR but don’t need it in the future.

Typically AVR’s don’t provide very good stereo sound so going for a stereo amp (plus tuner if needed) would provide a jump in sound quality with the Kefs. Do you have a budget and do you mind second hand or looking to buy new? Something like the Arcam A19 second hand may be a good place to start.

The Kefs are a pretty decent speaker and What Hifi put it in their top 10 Kef products of all time. I suspect you may need to jump up to some second hand R500’s to get a significant increase in sound quality.

 

silverbackben

Standard Member
Not really looking to break the bank on a complete overhaul, but maybe £100-200 to upgrade an element of my system with something used I think
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
When you say you want a receiver do you mean you want to use an am/fm radio? Or is it because you have that as a function of the AVR but don’t need it in the future.

Typically AVR’s don’t provide very good stereo sound so going for a stereo amp (plus tuner if needed) would provide a jump in sound quality with the Kefs. Do you have a budget and do you mind second hand or looking to buy new? Something like the Arcam A19 second hand may be a good place to start.

The Kefs are a pretty decent speaker and What Hifi put it in their top 10 Kef products of all time. I suspect you may need to jump up to some second hand R500’s to get a significant increase in sound quality.

I think you’ve hit it bang on, I’m not using the AVR functionality at all so I’m thinking I can get a good upgrade without spending too many hundreds!

to summarise, I’m ONLY using the receiver with the CD player and turntable, no radio use or TV
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Ok, the Arcam is around £300, keep an eye on this, they typically go for around £200, bags of power to keep a hold on the speakers and a decent phono stage plus a nice clean neutral sound.

Rotel RA1062.


or try a low ball offer on this one.


Review https://rotel.com/sites/default/files/RA-1062 Hifi Choice Mar04.pdf

or keep an eye out for an RA-03, again go for around the £200 mark.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Either of these will do an very good job, better than the Kenwood.



And as Ugg says, it will cost you more than your current budget to appreciably improve on the sound of the Kefs.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Ps, just saw you don’t need a radio.

Nevertheless the above two amps will be a big improvement on the Kenwood.

Both have plenty of current delivering ability and both have better than average phono stages.
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
I’ve seen a fair few amplifiers listed locally, are any of these a step up?
  • Rotel RX-152 (£45)
  • Rotel RA-820BX (£80)
  • Rotel RA-970BX (£195 - bundle with other stuff)
  • Sony STR-DE 497 (£45)
  • Technics SU-VZ220 (£65)
  • Denon PMA-720 (£120)
  • Denon PMA-520 (£100)
  • Yamaha AX-592 (£150)
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Pps, as will the Rotels ugg has listed Can’t go wrong with Rotel amps.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I’ve seen a fair few amplifiers listed locally, are any of these a step up?
  • Rotel RX-152 (£45)
  • Rotel RA-820BX (£80)
  • Rotel RA-970BX (£195 - bundle with other stuff)
  • Sony STR-DE 497 (£45)
  • Technics SU-VZ220 (£65)
  • Denon PMA-720 (£120)
  • Denon PMA-520 (£100)
  • Yamaha AX-592 (£150)

They are all getting very old. Which will sooner or later become a problem.

The Sony and Technics are not... extraordinary shall we say.
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
Thanks Paul, my thinking was some older models could be great bang for buck, but perhaps I’ll stay away from the ones I’ve listed.

I really appreciate this wealth of knowledge and I’m really glad to get the validation on my thinking that the AV receiver isn’t getting the most out of the KEFs!
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
As @Paul7777x says, the Rotel s listed are getting on a bit, the RX152 is 1970’s, Ra820 is a 1980’s base model and the ra970 would be ok but is 1990’s. The Ra1062 I listed is top of the budget but is a step up the Rotel ladder.

Typically, of the older models the first number denotes the age if single figures, the second two denote the power (higher number more power), the 10 series was a higher end model and the later RAxx replaced the 9 series. A bit confusing but the 10xx series is held in pretty good regard but the Ra03 is known to be a good spot in that series.

Also agree Rotel is a significant step up on Technics or Denon due to their significantly better power supplies.
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
Great info, so 10xx series is a great older option then?
I can’t see the RA-03 for sale with my quick search. Would you mind enlightening me on the RA-02 or RA-05? How does the RA series work?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
RA series are basically in date order with 01 the oldest an 14 the newest but are all minor mods on each other as they get replaced. Check out for those with a phono input, these were dropped on a lot of amps around 2000-2010 but brought back more recently. The RA03 and 04 (04 does not have a remote) are supposed tosound better than the 05 going by the reviews. The RA 02 is pretty good but I think the 03 trumps it slightly.

review of RA02 here - https://www.rotel.com/sites/default/files/RA-02 What Hifi Sep02.pdf
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
Thank you for the lessons Ugg, really what I needed!
I’m leaning towards the RA-02 as there is one available on eBay at £180, struggling to find the RA-03
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you are willing to spend that then a cheeky bid on the silver Ra1062 (it has offers available) may be worth a go (last two silver ones to go on Ebay were at £174 and £207), this is a better unit than the RA02 by a reasonable amount and will with stand a speaker upgrade easily in the future. Just my opinion up to you though.
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
It’s a very valued opinion - I need to just figure out how much it will annoy me in silver with the rest of my black gear haha
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
After lots more reading and researching, I hit the button on a RA-04 that looks in great condition. I think it’ll be more than I need.

Thank you for your help, I’ll follow up with my thoughts on it when it arrives!
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Do let us know how you get on with it, will be helpful for others in the future.
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
Following up with my thoughts - excellent little amp, nice heavy build.
Sound quality is excellent, noticeably better than the previous.

I do wonder if mine has a slight fault, however, as I cannot turn the volume dial more than 1/8th of the way without it being deafeningly loud - surely the amp is not that powerful!
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Following up with my thoughts - excellent little amp, nice heavy build.
Sound quality is excellent, noticeably better than the previous.

I do wonder if mine has a slight fault, however, as I cannot turn the volume dial more than 1/8th of the way without it being deafeningly loud - surely the amp is not that powerful!

I’m delighted you’re happy sir.

Always good to give useful help.

It’s not a fault. It’s more likely to be an input overload.

That is too much signal for the input.

For some reason amps sometimes have ridiculously low input levels

Do you know what the output of your turntable is in millivolts?

The line inputs are also very low too.

If it’s very annoying, and I used to find it so, then attenuators are a great idea and work very well.
 

gava

Active Member
When you say you want a receiver do you mean you want to use an am/fm radio? Or is it because you have that as a function of the AVR but don’t need it in the future.

Typically AVR’s don’t provide very good stereo sound so going for a stereo amp (plus tuner if needed) would provide a jump in sound quality with the Kefs. Do you have a budget and do you mind second hand or looking to buy new? Something like the Arcam A19 second hand may be a good place to start.

The Kefs are a pretty decent speaker and What Hifi put it in their top 10 Kef products of all time. I suspect you may need to jump up to some second hand R500’s to get a significant increase in sound quality.

I had a pair of those for 15 years. Wonderful speakers.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
For example, your Onkyo has a 2V output, reducing that to 1V or even a fraction less would help a lot with the usable range of the volume control, and plausibly give you a slightly smoother presentation.

You can test this out if you have a phone or tablet with a headphone output.

They are (usually around 1V output).

One of these will be required to test it.

Amazon product
The nominal input for the line levels on the 04 is 150mv. That is ludicrously tiny.
 

silverbackben

Standard Member
Excellent information thank you!
I used to have that cable, so going to rummage around for it, if not buy one to test out your theory.

I think it’s quite annoying to turn the dial by like 1% to adjust in, so ideally I’d get it sorted with attenuators.

Apologies for the ignorance, but are attenuators a completely separate unit?
 

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