Thoughts on a Cambridge Audio Minx based 5.1 system?

MJNewton

Active Member
Apologies in advance for the preamble but I feel the need to set the context...

In around 2003 I bought my first 5.1 surround system - a JVC TH-A75R - and had it for around 15 years. I don't know at what level it was pitched at when it came out but I can only have been a few hundred quid and so must've been fairly low end. Absolutely loved it though, although as the years went by its looks inevitably dated and somehow through a house move, arrival of a daughter and other distractions and priorities we've found ourselves back with just the sound from a Sony 55XH9605 TV. It's not the worst, but I do miss the days of proper surround.

Having finally completed a 'family room' (lounge, kitchen, dining) extension my thoughts have turned back to AV once more and despite putting loads of effort into running cabling for surround sound it seems my wife's really against the idea having speakers 'everywhere'. Thus, my attention turned to soundbars and I've just bought a Sonos Arc. It's good, but I can't help but feel underwhelmed. The likes of Strictly Come Dancing (don't laugh; it's just a reference point!) doesn't sound quite as 'bright' as I always recalled from the JVC, I am missing the rumble in movies and, perhaps inevitably, it lacks 'immersion' I guess due to the lack of surrounds.

I'm toying with buying some surround speakers (Ikea Symfonisk perhaps?) and hiding them behind the sofa and see if they pass they wife test whilst hopefully still adding something of value, but then I'd still be lacking the 'feel' of a sub and given the size of the Arc we'd hardly by ending up that far from 'speakers everywhere' so I'm thinking I might try and push for a 5.1 setup once more.

I do get the 'speakers everwhere' concern and so to mitigate that I feel the need to restrict myself to small speakers (and a sub of whatever size that I can hopefully hide) just like we had with the JVC. That obviously narrows down my options significantly but I am being drawn towards the Cambridge Audio Minx series paired with something like a Marantz NR1510 or Denon X2600 receiver. I haven't seen the speakers in the flesh yet but I like the look from photos and think they might be acceptable to the wife, particularly if we explore both the black and white options to maximise discreteness.

I'd be really grateful if those with this system - or similar - might be able to share their thoughts as to how they've found it. I am assuming I'd be pleased from an audio perspective but then having spent £899 on a soundbar (okay, I only paid £679) and feeling disappointed has taught me there are no guarantees. Sure, a 5.1 setup like what I'm looking at will cost even more, which then obviously raises the option of Arc + Sub + Surrounds.

Oh, what to do. I'm feeling a case of 'analysis paralysis'. If only Richer Sounds had a 100-day returns policy like Sonos and I could just give the different options a go! Maybe buying second hand might be the best option then if it doesn't work out I can just sell on for little/no loss?
 

MJNewton

Active Member
Having focused on my thoughts in order to start this thread it has made me think a bit more 'big picture'... Specifically, around the price of a receiver-based 5.1 setup vs a Sonos package. I was baulking even at the idea of spending £749 (£637 with discount) for a Sonos sub but I've since realised I should be looking at the total cost which, as below, doesn't seem too bad compared with the separates alternative I'm considering.

CA Minx 22 (x5) + CA X301 Sub + Marantz NR1510 Receiver = £1443
Sonos Arc + Sonos Sub + Ikea Symfonisk Surrounds = £1493 (with 15% discounts applied as applicable)

So there's no real price difference and yet I'm beginning to think there might be some benefits with the Sonos approach:

  • Matched components so no concerns over suitability / compatibility
  • No seperate receiver so one less box to find a home for
  • 'Family friendly' in terms of usability - no remotes, source switching etc for day-to-day use
  • Gradual upgrade when funds allow (and I could even time things so as to coincide with my wife being particularly amenable to sneaking another speaker in!)
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Having focused on my thoughts in order to start this thread it has made me think a bit more 'big picture'... Specifically, around the price of a receiver-based 5.1 setup vs a Sonos package. I was baulking even at the idea of spending £749 (£637 with discount) for a Sonos sub but I've since realised I should be looking at the total cost which, as below, doesn't seem too bad compared with the separates alternative I'm considering.

CA Minx 22 (x5) + CA X301 Sub + Marantz NR1510 Receiver = £1443
Sonos Arc + Sonos Sub + Ikea Symfonisk Surrounds = £1493 (with 15% discounts applied as applicable)

So there's no real price difference and yet I'm beginning to think there might be some benefits with the Sonos approach:

  • Matched components so no concerns over suitability / compatibility
  • No seperate receiver so one less box to find a home for
  • 'Family friendly' in terms of usability - no remotes, source switching etc for day-to-day use
  • Gradual upgrade when funds allow (and I could even time things so as to coincide with my wife being particularly amenable to sneaking another speaker in!)

You don´t need to spend that much really. Monitor Audio has similar size option to Minxes and together as bundle deal the price is 550£ less than the ones you listed and it comes with free cables/wires.. White finish is available too. However the av-receiver would be normal sized, but also better than the one you linked with more channels, features, atmos/dts:x support, better room correction, more connections etc.




However you didn`t post any information about how large the room is, how far you sit from tv, does the room open to another space? Tiny fist sized speakers with small sub can only do so much, same as soundbar. The Sonos sub price is eye watering if you only would know how much better you would get with that same price.

Are you sure you can´t sell the idea for wife of modern white finish compact bookshelf speakers on stands or slim floorstanding speakers as main speakers? Then you could add small wife friendly effect channels and hide the wiring. They don´t need to match same as subwoofer can be bought from company that specializes in them and naturally you would get white and downfiring so driver not visible. Small wooden furniture.

Example MA Radius 270 is now on sale for 1300£ normally 1850£. Would need to find cheap receiver.


Would look like this in white, there is even slimmer center channel available Radius 225 if required.

view



view
 

MJNewton

Active Member
Thanks for such a detailed reply @Gasp3621!

You don´t need to spend that much really. Monitor Audio has similar size option to Minxes and together as bundle deal the price is 550£ less than the ones you listed and it comes with free cables/wires.. White finish is available too. However the av-receiver would be normal sized, but also better than the one you linked with more channels, features, atmos/dts:x support, better room correction, more connections etc.

Ah, okay, that is quite a bit cheaper! Certainly feels the right side of a grand... ;-)

I think a full-size receiver would be okay. The 'receiver-less' aspect of a soundbar setup does seem appealing, but if I can hide a receiver away in a cupboard (dealing with cooling as required) then it's definitely not a showstopper.

However you didn`t post any information about how large the room is, how far you sit from tv, does the room open to another space? Tiny fist sized speakers with small sub can only do so much, same as soundbar.

Good question, complicated answer! The room is actually an open plan 'family room', which I imagine in the AV business is also known as 'less than ideal':

Floorplans 29 - New Floorplan (Ground Floor Only).png

The lounge area is the bit at the top (with the roof lantern illustrated, just for added sonic complexity!) with dimensions of approx 4.5m x 3m. The TV is on the right-hand wall and there's an L-shaped sofa near the left-hand wall and opening into the kitchen area.

The Sonos sub price is eye watering if you only would know how much better you would get with that same price.

Yes, eye watering does some it up. But as mentioned it doesn't seem quite so offensive when added up as part of a total system, but then that was when compared against a separates system of similar price which you've almost slashed in half with an alternative!

Are you sure you can´t sell the idea for wife of modern white finish compact bookshelf speakers on stands or slim floorstanding speakers as main speakers? Then you could add small wife friendly effect channels and hide the wiring. They don´t need to match same as subwoofer can be bought from company that specializes in them and naturally you would get white and downfiring so driver not visible. Small wooden furniture.

There's probably more chance of you letting me come round your house to use your system whenever I want to watch a film... ;-) I'm painting my wife in a terrible light here, but actually I can totally understand her desire to not have large speakers and to an extent I probably share that preference now that we've got a 4yr old daughter in the house knocking things over, or always threatening to at least!

Would look like this in white, there is even slimmer center channel available Radius 225 if required.

Looks lovely but it ain't going to happen... I'm sitting here smiling though at the thought of buying them just for the priceless look on my wife's face when she walks in!
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Ah open plan room, even worse then..

What would she think of slim on-wall speakers? Example Dali Oberon with 4finishes. If the center channel is too imposing then you could think of 4.1 system. These would be good looking with exciting sound and safe from kid. :)

07-Dali-Oberon-On-Wall.jpg


w95rgajqiim21.jpg


 

MJNewton

Active Member
Ah open plan room, even worse then..

Naturally. Nothing's ever easy in my life.

What would she think of slim on-wall speakers? Example Dali Oberon with 4finishes. If the center channel is too imposing then you could think of 4.1 system. These would be good looking with exciting sound and safe from kid. :)

An interesting option... but I have to ask (and risk getting thrown off the forum): I see that they are £499... is that for one or a pair? 😲
 

MJNewton

Active Member
An interesting option... but I have to ask (and risk getting thrown off the forum): I see that they are £499... is that for one or a pair? 😲

To save my own embarrassment, I see that that's for a pair (it wasn't obvious on Peter Tyson's site!). It's still pushing the budget though which, whilst unspecified, has got to remain sensible!

Speaking of sensible, I'm sensing you're not into the Sonos option? Is it a bang-per-buck / value-for-money thing? Price aside, I'm still hopeful it'd deliver? I read the reviews - both press and owners - and it always seems to rank so highly?
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Naturally. Nothing's ever easy in my life.



An interesting option... but I have to ask (and risk getting thrown off the forum): I see that they are £499... is that for one or a pair? 😲

It´s for pair. If you have local Richer Sounds you can go listen example Dali Oberon 1, they will sound same as these. Demoing is free no need to buy anything.

Then add BKE subwoofer made in UK, finish that suits your room decor. DF= downfiring so kid can´t go poking it and it looks more like furniture for wife. Scroll link down and click on the small pictures to see them larger:

Then add compact surround speakers for effects, some cable trunking d-link from amazon uk to hide wires, the Denon X1600H receiver (439£). Perhaps there is deal to be made with Denon and Dalis.
 

MJNewton

Active Member
some cable trunking d-link from amazon uk to hide wires

Now that's one thing going for me - I actually ran speaker wire to all four corners from the TV position in the lounge area in anticipation of potentially needing them one day. One thing I hadn't considered with powered subs is that they expect line level inputs rather than (speaker?) level!

Thanks for all the ideas. Some might be pushing things to a level beyond that which I need - which is great and in an ideal world I'd seriously consider - but in a far-from-ideal room and competing priorities I must remain sensible. What that is I don't know but I'm going to do some reading about all the ones you've mentioned, so a big thanks again.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Now that's one thing going for me - I actually ran speaker wire to all four corners from the TV position in the lounge area in anticipation of potentially needing them one day. One thing I hadn't considered with powered subs is that they expect line level inputs rather than (speaker?) level!

Thanks for all the ideas. Some might be pushing things to a level beyond that which I need - which is great and in an ideal world I'd seriously consider - but in a far-from-ideal room and competing priorities I must remain sensible. What that is I don't know but I'm going to do some reading about all the ones you've mentioned, so a big thanks again.

Show it to wife also what she thinks about the Dalis. Music listening would be lot more enjoyable too. Keep in mind that you can start with 2.1 system if money is tight, then add rest later.



The subwoofer i linked would be more ideal for the larger open space while keeping the budget low, but if she requires there is smaller options too. Good woofer will make big difference to whole system so i wouldn´t skimp on it.


And also narrow version which could blend nicely in front corner. Picture shows it in-room at left.


screenshot_20210825-115017_whatsapp-jpg.1560300
 

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