Question What separates system for £1000?

LukeJD

Novice Member
Assuming you had a £1000 to spend, what separates system would you buy to maximise the sound quality assuming lossless digital files are the source? It doesn't matter whether the components are new or second-hand. Are there any lesser known, smaller brands that you would seek out in an effort to increase the sound quality?
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Where are the Lossless Files Stored and is that included in the price?

System 1 -

£380/ea = Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver, 80w/ch, Network Streaming, Bluetooth, DAC
£595/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 240 (2x6.5", 1x5" Mid) Floorstanding Speakers
---------------------------
£975 = Total


System 2 -

£300/ea = Yamaha AS501 Integrated Amp, 85w/ch, DAC (1xOptical, 1xCoaxial)
£500/ea = Bluesound NODE-2 Network Streamer
£200/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 220 (6.5") Bookshelf
--------------------------------
£1000 = Total


Of course there is room for Substitutions. It is however hard for find Amp with better value than the Yamaha, and given that the budget is restricted, these will give you most value for your money.

The Diamond 240 are on sale at SuperFi for £500/pr, which is exceptional value, especially when you consider they were originally £700/pr.

You could substitute the Monitor Audio Bronze 2 bookshelf, the Bronze 5 floorstanding, or the more considerable Bronze 6 floorstanding depending on how big your room is.

The KEF "Q"-Series are on close out now and represent outstanding bargains, certainly worth checking out -

£350/pr = Kef Q500 (2x5") Floorstanding (£700/pr retail) -

KEF Q500 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

£500/pr = Kef Q700 (2x6.5") Floorstanding (£1000/pr Retail) -

KEF Q700 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

£600/pr = Kef Q900 (2x8") Floorstanding (£1200/pr retail) -


KEF Q900 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Depending on your circumstance and flexibility in your budget, you could consider -

£550/pr = Dali Zensor 5 floorstanding (2x5")

£730/pr = Dali Zensor 7 floorstanding (2x7")


Given the reduced price and the desire for digital music, I would guess the Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver with either the Whardedale Diamond 240 or the Kef Q700 would produce outstanding results. Both would actually keep you a bit under budget.

Both Yamaha RN602+Diamond 240 and the Yamaha RN602+Kef Q700 would be virtually the same price, just under £1000.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I'd buy a high quality streamer and a pair of studio actives myself.

Say, a Yamaha WXC50
and two Dynaudio BM5's

or perhaps a pair of Presonus R65's

All you'd need otherwise is cables, and speaker stands.

I'd agree.

This is the simplest and imo the best way to get a very excellent sounding music system.

I'd start, probably. With a fine dac preamp, such as the Arcam irdac 2

Arcam irDAC-II DAC

And than some serious active speakers from this list.

Mackie XR624

Dynaudio BM5 MKIII

And for a large room perhaps these

Mackie XR824 B-Stock

You'll be delighted with the sound I'd bet.
 

LukeJD

Novice Member
Where are the Lossless Files Stored and is that included in the price?

System 1 -

£380/ea = Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver, 80w/ch, Network Streaming, Bluetooth, DAC
£595/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 240 (2x6.5", 1x5" Mid) Floorstanding Speakers
---------------------------
£975 = Total


System 2 -

£300/ea = Yamaha AS501 Integrated Amp, 85w/ch, DAC (1xOptical, 1xCoaxial)
£500/ea = Bluesound NODE-2 Network Streamer
£200/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 220 (6.5") Bookshelf
--------------------------------
£1000 = Total


Of course there is room for Substitutions. It is however hard for find Amp with better value than the Yamaha, and given that the budget is restricted, these will give you most value for your money.

The Diamond 240 are on sale at SuperFi for £500/pr, which is exceptional value, especially when you consider they were originally £700/pr.

You could substitute the Monitor Audio Bronze 2 bookshelf, the Bronze 5 floorstanding, or the more considerable Bronze 6 floorstanding depending on how big your room is.

The KEF "Q"-Series are on close out now and represent outstanding bargains, certainly worth checking out -

£350/pr = Kef Q500 (2x5") Floorstanding (£700/pr retail) -

KEF Q500 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

£500/pr = Kef Q700 (2x6.5") Floorstanding (£1000/pr Retail) -

KEF Q700 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

£600/pr = Kef Q900 (2x8") Floorstanding (£1200/pr retail) -


KEF Q900 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Depending on your circumstance and flexibility in your budget, you could consider -

£550/pr = Dali Zensor 5 floorstanding (2x5")

£730/pr = Dali Zensor 7 floorstanding (2x7")


Given the reduced price and the desire for digital music, I would guess the Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver with either the Whardedale Diamond 240 or the Kef Q700 would produce outstanding results. Both would actually keep you a bit under budget.

Both Yamaha RN602+Diamond 240 and the Yamaha RN602+Kef Q700 would be virtually the same price, just under £1000.

Steve/bluewizard

Thanks for the great response Steve. To answer you question, the files are currently spread around a bit between my laptop, an external harddrive, and some USBs. I'll likely consolidate them onto a single USB/external harddrive. I haven't included this in the cost of the system.

I've seen the Yamaha RN602 recommended a few times. While I agree it is great value I do wonder if it represents the best sound quality value for money. I have read that it needs to be carefully paired with speakers.

I'll have a look at some of the speakers you mentioned. My room size is approximately 5m x 3.5m and the system will be positioned near a bay window. It's not ideal, but its what I've got to play with. Consequently I was thinking of bookshelf mounted front port speakers but some small-ish floor standers might be ok.

One followup question regarding system 2 that you recommended - how would this compare to the Bluesound Powernode 2 which has an integrated amp? This was one system that I've been recommended.

Some of the other systems I've been recommended include:
1) CA CXA60 + Monitor Audio Silver 1;
2) Marrantz PM8005 + Focal Aria 906;
3) Abrahamsen V2.0UP + IPL Acoustic M1 (assuming 2nd hand);
4) NAD C338 + B&W 686 S2
5) Pioneer N50A + Rotel A10/NAD C326 + Monitor Audio Bronze 2.
6) NAD D3020 + PSB Imagine Mini

I've also recently spotted the Emotiva BasX TA-100 which on paper seems to be a high quality amp. At this stage I'm trying to reduce down to a couple of options that I can then try out and hunt for deals on.

I'd agree.

This is the simplest and imo the best way to get a very excellent sounding music system.

I'd start, probably. With a fine dac preamp, such as the Arcam irdac 2

Arcam irDAC-II DAC

And than some serious active speakers from this list.

Mackie XR624

Dynaudio BM5 MKIII

And for a large room perhaps these

Mackie XR824 B-Stock

You'll be delighted with the sound I'd bet.

Paul - thanks for the recommendations. Being new to the Hi-Fi game I hadn't thought of building a system around active speakers. I do like the simplicity of the system. And also that I could potentially use the DAC as a part of a DAC + pre + power + passive speaker setup.

As I mentioned, my primary goal for now is sound quality but a secondary goal is buying components that will allow me to upgrade the system incrementally. The DAC preamp + actives may be the way to go in this regard...
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If going second hand something like an audiolab mdac plugged straight into a 8200p (may be able to squeeze a pair of 8000m mono locks if you get lucky) connected to a pair of kef reference model ones or possibly 104/2 would be where I would start. Note pc will need to be plugged directly into the mdac as it is not networkable, pc will need a sound card with an spdif or optical out preferable with the same spec as the mdac (24/192 I think) or just connect with USB at 24/96. This should all be doable within your budget if you keep a close eye on classifieds and auction sites.
 
Last edited:

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
...

I've seen the Yamaha RN602 recommended a few times. While I agree it is great value I do wonder if it represents the best sound quality value for money. I have read that it needs to be carefully paired with speakers.

You can get a better amp than the Yamaha, but there are only two ways you can get it -

- Spend more money
- Accept less amp

Or in some cases, do both.

As to speaker matching, no better or worse then any other amp.

My room size is approximately 5m x 3.5m and the system will be positioned near a bay window. It's not ideal, but its what I've got to play with. ..

That is a relatively small room. Will the speakers be placed on the Long Wall or the Short Wall, because that will make a difference. Speaker playing down the length of a 16ft (5m) room will do better than speakers playing across a narrow 11.5ft (3.5m) room.

One followup question regarding system 2 that you recommended - how would this compare to the Bluesound Powernode 2 which has an integrated amp?

The PowerNode-2 is a workable solution, but while the power is adequate, it is on the low side. BUT ... the Bluesound PowerNode-2 is £800. That eats a lot of your budget.

Bluesound POWERNODE 2 Hi-Res Wireless Music Streamer / Amplifier

Though they are not real forthcoming with the details, the power on this device seems to be in the range of 50w/ch to 60w/ch to 8 ohms, though given the size, I have to wonder if it is not a Class-D amp.

Some of the other systems I've been recommended include:
1) CA CXA60 + Monitor Audio Silver 1;
2) Marrantz PM8005 + Focal Aria 906;
3) Abrahamsen V2.0UP + IPL Acoustic M1 (assuming 2nd hand);
4) NAD C338 + B&W 686 S2
5) Pioneer N50A + Rotel A10/NAD C326 + Monitor Audio Bronze 2.
6) NAD D3020 + PSB Imagine Mini

I'm sure these are all good systems, but they seem to be all over the maps. You need to think about specifically how much power you need, and specifically what features you need. You imply that your music will be collected on a USB-Stick, kind of pointless if the amp you choose does not have a USB-Media Input.

For example -

Marantz PM8005
is a nice amp ...but... NO DIGITAL INPUTS, 70w/ch (~£500, £999 retail).

Rotel A10 - no digital inputs and only 40w/ch, ~£390.

NAD D-3020
- nice, 30w/ch, digital inputs, compact, no Network Streaming, Class-D amps, ~£450.

Of course, if an amp were to have a USB-Media input that would imply that it also had a built-In DAC.

So, you have Music Files, and you have an amp, now you have to figure out how to get the Music Files to play on the Amp. That doesn't happen by magic, you have to have an amp with that specific capability, whatever that specific capability might be.

Some Amp do have USB-PC inputs, which means you can collect all your music on a computer and connect the USB-out of the Computer to the USB-in of the Amp, but that comes with complications of its own.

And while USB-Media is an option, Network Streaming is a lot more versatile. From what I have gathered, the Bluesound Smart Device App will allow you to construct Play Lists. You may or may not be able to do that with USB-Media. But that's up to you to determine. The POINT IS, If you collect all your media on a USB Stick, then the Amp you have to pick has to be an amp that supports USB-Media.

I've also recently spotted the Emotiva BasX TA-100 which on paper seems to be a high quality amp. At this stage I'm trying to reduce down to a couple of options that I can then try out and hunt for deals on.

Very good high value amp, assuming you can get it at a decent price -

TA-100 | Emotiva

* 50w/ch to 8 ohms
* Digital Inputs
** 1 – digital coax (S/PDIF); 24/192k.
** 1 – digital optical (Toslink); 24/192k.
** 1 – digital USB (DAC input); 24/96k; no drivers required.
** 1 – Bluetooth receiver (requires optional AptX Bluetooth dongle).
* Analog Inputs
** 2 pairs – stereo analog line level inputs (CD, Aux).
** 1 pair – stereo phono inputs (switchable; moving magnet or moving coil).
** 1 tuner – FM (with external antenna input; 50 station presets).

While the Yamaha RN602 is not a prefect amp, it does everything you need and more, and has decent power. If you don't feel you need Streaming, then you need an amp to accommodate you Media in whatever form you choose for it to be in - on a USB-Stick or no the Network or on a Direct Connect Computer.

The question isn't is THIS a good amp, whatever that amp might be, but rather does this Amp do what you need done in the way you need it done?

Steve/bluewizard
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
If going second hand something like an audiolab mdac plugged straight into a 8200p (may be able to squeeze a pair of 8000m mono locks if you get lucky) connected to a pair of kef reference model ones or possibly 104/2 would be where I would start. Note pc will need to be plugged directly into the mdac as it is not networkable, pc will need a sound card with an spdif or optical out preferable with the same spec as the mdac (24/192 I think) or just connect with USB at 24/96. This should all be doable within your budget if you keep a close eye on classifieds and auction sites.

This is along the lines of what I would have suggested. I have an Mdac that I use as DAC only but I'm pretty sure if using as pre-amp you can use the rotary control on it for volume. I realise both the Mdac and Arcam irdac can control volume via remote but personally I would like a physical volume knob so would go for the Mdac in the OP's situation. I would then consider a raspberry pi (under £50 new) to run LMS (Squeezebox server) and used Squeezebox classic which would again be around £50.
 

lindsayt

Active Member
LukeJD, in order to get the very best sound quality for £1000, I would throw out the following considerations: looks, age, guarantees, condition, size. Especially when it came to speakers. In fact I'd be targeting the biggest, ugliest oldest speakers in the worst condition possible. Something the size of a confessional with scruffy, chipped cabinets and rotten surrounds on the bass cones would be ideal.

With speakers, to get the very best sound quality for £1000, the best way is to do the opposite to what most people would do. Supply and demand.

Something like this but preferably more local:
Vintage Altec Lansing 604-8k 15" Speakers w/ 411 Woofers Post Western Electric | eBay
With a Great Plains Audio refoam kit for a few bucks and a DIY passive crossover for this particular item.

High efficiency speakers like this sound fine with used £20 ebayed Japanese integrated amps.

The speaker brands I would target include EV, Altec, JBL, Vitavox, Klangfilm, all of whom were large companies in their heydey who knew what they were doing.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Just as an example and are patient looking for bits, I have just put together a sub £400 Second Hand system that I think sounds pretty good. I guess it should given the original price of the bits would have been close to £2k and that was approx. 10 years ago.

I picked up a Fostex DAC (24/96 over usb) used as a preamp, pair of Rotel RB-850 power amps which are bridged (neat trick on Rotel's older amps, just flick a switch) to act as monoblocks i.e. one amp per speaker, and a pair of B&W CDM1SE's. Works really well as a small room/study desk system.

As I suggested, the Audiolab Mdac/8200P plus kef Reference One's all sell for around the £300 mark on auction sites, the Mdac was originally £600, the 8200P £750 and the kef's approx. £1500 (kef 104/2's were approx. £2000 IIRFC).

As you may have guessed I am a big fan of other people taking the initial depreciation hit (I do the same with cars). In the past I picked up a Quad 44/405.2 pre/power combo and a set of 104/2's and fed these with a technical SLP777 CD, probably the best kit I had, really regret selling it all. My current Surround kit, I bough the Amp (Denon 3808) and Blueray Transport (Denon 2500BT) SH but had to get the speakers new (B&W FPM's) as I could not find anything else that passed the "visual requirements" (note, my 104/2's were referred to as Wardrobes!).
 

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