£1000 (or so) to improve my system

TheDonald

Active member
Dec 7, 2022
9
4
25
Current System
Marantz CD63 KI Signature
Onkyo A-9010
Tannoy Eclipse 2
QED Qunex 1
QED XT40i

I assembled the above on a strict budget when I gained the space to make a full system worthwhile again. The Onkyo (bought new) stood head and shoulders above the other amps I demo'd, including a couple that were considerably more expensive (Marantz PM6006, Yamaha AS-501) and I would like to keep it for a while yet. The CD63 KI was a somewhat sentimental purchase as it was an object of desire when I was first getting into the hobby as a yoof, but surely remained at least the equal of anything I could have bought new for what it cost me second hand. Its age is a concern though as these things don't last forever... The Tannoys were bought new for, essentially, what was left of the budget.

I find the overall sound to be detailed without being overly analytical, but also slightly laid back and lacking a bit of heft. There can also be a touch of roughness in the upper midrange when listening at higher volumes. It's an enjoyable "starter" system but, especially as someone who is not new to this game, I know that improvement is always possible.

I am a firm believer in "garbage in, garbage out" but also recognise that the speakers are probably the one truly "budget" element of the setup. If you were me, would you go big on speakers now and hope that the Marantz holds up for the year or two more it would take to save for a replacement? Would dropping £1k or so on a set of speakers to stick them on the end of the Onkyo be a waste? In theory I could get a Rotel CD11 Tribute along with some Dali Oberon 5 or AE109^2 speakers - perhaps you think this sort of idea would actually be better?

I'm putting this out there as I'm interested in what the community thinks. Obviously I will be demoing extensively before making final decisions! I have easy access to Richer Sounds and a few other options with slightly more effort.


Background Info
The below system was the culmination of 5 or so years of saving and spending in my late teens/early twenties. I loved it. The sound was big and bouncy and fun and engaging, to my (and no doubt my neighbours'!) ears at least. Lack of adequate space and a need for money saw the components make their way onto a well known auction site... I include details of this system here as a reference - I am not expecting to be able to replicate it on the budget that I have, nor do I have the space for speakers of that size (the current Tannoys are a relatively compact floorstander).

Roksan K2 CD player
Roksan K2 amp
Monitor Audio GR20
QED Silver Spiral
QED Silver Anniversary bi-wire
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Current System
Marantz CD63 KI Signature
Onkyo A-9010
Tannoy Eclipse 2
QED Qunex 1
QED XT40i

I assembled the above on a strict budget when I gained the space to make a full system worthwhile again. The Onkyo (bought new) stood head and shoulders above the other amps I demo'd, including a couple that were considerably more expensive (Marantz PM6006, Yamaha AS-501) and I would like to keep it for a while yet. The CD63 KI was a somewhat sentimental purchase as it was an object of desire when I was first getting into the hobby as a yoof, but surely remained at least the equal of anything I could have bought new for what it cost me second hand. Its age is a concern though as these things don't last forever... The Tannoys were bought new for, essentially, what was left of the budget.

I find the overall sound to be detailed without being overly analytical, but also slightly laid back and lacking a bit of heft. There can also be a touch of roughness in the upper midrange when listening at higher volumes. It's an enjoyable "starter" system but, especially as someone who is not new to this game, I know that improvement is always possible.

I am a firm believer in "garbage in, garbage out" but also recognise that the speakers are probably the one truly "budget" element of the setup. If you were me, would you go big on speakers now and hope that the Marantz holds up for the year or two more it would take to save for a replacement? Would dropping £1k or so on a set of speakers to stick them on the end of the Onkyo be a waste? In theory I could get a Rotel CD11 Tribute along with some Dali Oberon 5 or AE109^2 speakers - perhaps you think this sort of idea would actually be better?

I'm putting this out there as I'm interested in what the community thinks. Obviously I will be demoing extensively before making final decisions! I have easy access to Richer Sounds and a few other options with slightly more effort.


Background Info
The below system was the culmination of 5 or so years of saving and spending in my late teens/early twenties. I loved it. The sound was big and bouncy and fun and engaging, to my (and no doubt my neighbours'!) ears at least. Lack of adequate space and a need for money saw the components make their way onto a well known auction site... I include details of this system here as a reference - I am not expecting to be able to replicate it on the budget that I have, nor do I have the space for speakers of that size (the current Tannoys are a relatively compact floorstander).

Roksan K2 CD player
Roksan K2 amp
Monitor Audio GR20
QED Silver Spiral
QED Silver Anniversary bi-wire
Hi.

What do you think needs upgrading from your current set-up?

From personal experience, it can take a long time before you find a satisfactory improvement. It took me around 2 years to upgrade my old Arcam A65+. In that time I lost count of how many amps I demoed.

A well sorted budget or entry-level system is generally all you need.

I could make suggestions of brands that tugs my rug, but no guarantee it'll do it for you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheDonald

robdmarsh

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2015
680
248
19,270
I'm not surprised you like the Onkyo amp. I think they make great value for money amps and I had a Marantz pm6006 uk for a bit and didn't think it was up to much. So that being said, why don't you take your amp along to audition a few speakers. I heard the mark one of the AE 109 floor standers and thought they sounded really nice.
Question for you: why don't you get into streaming? You can do this fairly cheaply and in my opinion you don't need a dedicated streamer. Bluetooth has come on massively in recent years and unless you're dropping a LOT of money on a streamer and separate DAC, it can give you pretty incredible results. I had an ifi Zen blue bluetooth receiver, which I thought sounded better than the Bluesound Node everyone raves about (and is full-fat hi res). I have then recently upgraded to the ifi Zen One signature, which is a pretty astonishing piece of kit and has plenty of connection possibilities. Check AVforum's review of the same. Streaming can open the door to you to so much new music and you'll be surprised at the sound quality.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheDonald

matthewpianist

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2022
154
149
270
Are you stuck on buying new, or would you look at secondhand?

You could seek out good examples of one or more items from your much-loved Roksan set-up. A quick look on eBay shows that you could buy a K2 amp and suitable Monitor Audio speakers within your budget. You could also find a good example of the K2 CD player, though your Marantz is plenty good enough (age aside).

If you are wedded to buying new, the Mk1 AE109s mentioned by @robdmarsh are currently available for £299 - a bargain IMO. You may also want to consider the Monitor Audio Bronze 200 - another compact floor stander with engaging presentation and currently on offer around the £499. If you can part with your Onkyo I'd suggest you consider the Rega Brio - an amplifier with plenty of the bounce you are seeking. Add a Rotel CD11 Tribute or, if you can stretch, a Rega Apollo, and you'll have a significant upgrade on your current system.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheDonald
I would certainly try the Rotel with the speakers you suggest or indeed look at a second-hand Rotel from higher up the chain.
However, if you are happy with current amp and CD player than spend it all on the speakers, the Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 are bargains as are the Dali Spektor 6
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheDonald

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
244
154
970
Amp is fine, cd player is fine and would still be cheaper to service than buy new, often just a lazer unit or belts go be good then for another 20 years.

I’d start with speakers this would make the biggest most appreciated gain for you. 1k would buy you a lot of speaker. Especially if you went for a nice stand mount. Not wasting money on excess material then though you will have to budget for stands though they’re a dim a dozon on eBay. Maybe keep a little money back for a streamer of sorts.

Happy hunting
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheDonald

robdmarsh

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2015
680
248
19,270
Are you stuck on buying new, or would you look at secondhand?

You could seek out good examples of one or more items from your much-loved Roksan set-up. A quick look on eBay shows that you could buy a K2 amp and suitable Monitor Audio speakers within your budget. You could also find a good example of the K2 CD player, though your Marantz is plenty good enough (age aside).

If you are wedded to buying new, the Mk1 AE109s mentioned by @robdmarsh are currently available for £299 - a bargain IMO. You may also want to consider the Monitor Audio Bronze 200 - another compact floor stander with engaging presentation and currently on offer around the £499. If you can part with your Onkyo I'd suggest you consider the Rega Brio - an amplifier with plenty of the bounce you are seeking. Add a Rotel CD11 Tribute or, if you can stretch, a Rega Apollo, and you'll have a significant upgrade on your current system.
Hi Matt. Did you sell your Denon amp?
 

TheDonald

Active member
Dec 7, 2022
9
4
25
Oh dear. Yet another newbie who's reluctant to respond. Not sure of their motives. He was online at 7.30am.
I think we're talking to thin air.
Alright chaps, stand down. I had time for a quick check for replies before I went to work this morning and now I'm done for the day I have time to actually respond.

Thanks to all those who have offered advice so far. I suppose I know that the feeling I can do "better" comes ultimately from the fact that the speakers were pretty much my only option at the time I bought them - I had £100 or so left, preferred floorstanders and RS had them going at £99 iirc. I'd also previously owned a pair of Tannoy Mercury standmounters and found those to be decent enough. I think the advice so far has confirmed my gut feeling and also alerted me to a couple of options speaker-wise that I hadn't thought of.

@matthewpianist - I have probably had more bad experiences than good when buying hi-fi second hand, although my most recent experience (the current CD player) has been good. Luck of the draw I suppose. I did have a brief back and forth with someone local to my parents who was selling a K2 amp and CD player with some B&W speakers (with knackered tweeters) for £799 (or offers) but dilly-dallied as I would almost certainly have wanted a speaker upgrade as well, pushing me well over the £1000 mark (probably).

@plastic penguin - Totally agree that a well-sorted budget system is the most anyone really needs and, at the time I was buying Kandy gear (I originally had a KA-1 mk.1 amp and a KA-1 mk.3 CD player), I felt it was priced in the upper-budget area (the original amp cost me £495). I guess that's the category the Rega stuff suggested by Matthew now occupies, Roksan having sailed off into the distance price-wise!

@Gray - I am fond of the bounce! They're quite big boys but come in white, so I could potentially "hide" them a bit better than my black Tannoys... If I am considering going big, then I guess the QA 3050i comes into play as well

@robdmarsh - Unfortunately (?) I am one of those people who enjoys the whole process of going to the shop and buying a new album on the day of release, looking through the booklet, rearrranging the alphabetised CD collection in order to accomodate the new acquisition which inevitably has to go somewhere in the latter part of the alphabet... You know the type! I do have the whole collection stored in lossless format on my Mac as we use older style B&W Zeppelin iPod docks around the house, so I guess switching over to a purely digital source wouldn't be that difficult in the longer term. Perhaps if/when the Marantz dies if I can't find somewhere to economically repair it as @twinkletoes suggests.

Again, thanks to all for your input.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr and Gray

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Alright chaps, stand down. I had time for a quick check for replies before I went to work this morning and now I'm done for the day I have time to actually respond.

Thanks to all those who have offered advice so far. I suppose I know that the feeling I can do "better" comes ultimately from the fact that the speakers were pretty much my only option at the time I bought them - I had £100 or so left, preferred floorstanders and RS had them going at £99 iirc. I'd also previously owned a pair of Tannoy Mercury standmounters and found those to be decent enough. I think the advice so far has confirmed my gut feeling and also alerted me to a couple of options speaker-wise that I hadn't thought of.

@matthewpianist - I have probably had more bad experiences than good when buying hi-fi second hand, although my most recent experience (the current CD player) has been good. Luck of the draw I suppose. I did have a brief back and forth with someone local to my parents who was selling a K2 amp and CD player with some B&W speakers (with knackered tweeters) for £799 (or offers) but dilly-dallied as I would almost certainly have wanted a speaker upgrade as well, pushing me well over the £1000 mark (probably).

@plastic penguin - Totally agree that a well-sorted budget system is the most anyone really needs and, at the time I was buying Kandy gear (I originally had a KA-1 mk.1 amp and a KA-1 mk.3 CD player), I felt it was priced in the upper-budget area (the original amp cost me £495). I guess that's the category the Rega stuff suggested by Matthew now occupies, Roksan having sailed off into the distance price-wise!

@Gray - I am fond of the bounce! They're quite big boys but come in white, so I could potentially "hide" them a bit better than my black Tannoys... If I am considering going big, then I guess the QA 3050i comes into play as well

@robdmarsh - Unfortunately (?) I am one of those people who enjoys the whole process of going to the shop and buying a new album on the day of release, looking through the booklet, rearrranging the alphabetised CD collection in order to accomodate the new acquisition which inevitably has to go somewhere in the latter part of the alphabet... You know the type! I do have the whole collection stored in lossless format on my Mac as we use older style B&W Zeppelin iPod docks around the house, so I guess switching over to a purely digital source wouldn't be that difficult in the longer term. Perhaps if/when the Marantz dies if I can't find somewhere to economically repair it as @twinkletoes suggests.

Again, thanks to all for your input.
Clearly like the Onkyo and it's tricky to advise if you have a limited budget. You need to buy a amp that retailed around the £1000+, such as a used Roksan K2, Creek Evo, Roksan Caspian M1.... to make it a worthwhile upgrade. Then you'll find the speakers aren't of the required quality... it's a never ending, expensive hobby or interest.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheDonald

TheDonald

Active member
Dec 7, 2022
9
4
25
Well, this escalated quickly...

I'm not surprised you like the Onkyo amp. I think they make great value for money amps and I had a Marantz pm6006 uk for a bit and didn't think it was up to much. So that being said, why don't you take your amp along to audition a few speakers. I heard the mark one of the AE 109 floor standers and thought they sounded really nice.
Question for you: why don't you get into streaming? You can do this fairly cheaply and in my opinion you don't need a dedicated streamer. Bluetooth has come on massively in recent years and unless you're dropping a LOT of money on a streamer and separate DAC, it can give you pretty incredible results. I had an ifi Zen blue bluetooth receiver, which I thought sounded better than the Bluesound Node everyone raves about (and is full-fat hi res). I have then recently upgraded to the ifi Zen One signature, which is a pretty astonishing piece of kit and has plenty of connection possibilities. Check AVforum's review of the same. Streaming can open the door to you to so much new music and you'll be surprised at the sound quality.
A friend of mine (with similar sound preferences) had some of the original AE109's and loved them as well, so when I saw a pair of the updated "originals" (i.e. not the brand new "squared" ones) going for a good price, I blind bought them. Always a risk, I know, but nowhere around where I live stocks the 100 series. Straight out of the box they seem to be delivering exactly what I was looking for - despite being smaller than the Tannoys, the scale of the sound is massive! They're very clear and exciting as well.

On a related note, and a second reason I've quoted Rob's post, the Marantz CD player started playing up less than a week after I made my posts. I considered various options and have ended up ordering a Bluesound Vault 2i which is due for delivery this morning. I felt this was a good option as it gives me my first access to streaming but also allows me to maintain a CD collection, thereby satisfying my desire to keep the physical connection to the music.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr

TheDonald

Active member
Dec 7, 2022
9
4
25
You say maintain a CD collection but surely, once ripped to the Vault, you wouldn't need to?
To free up some space, I will store the CD's elsewhere in the house. I certainly won't be getting rid of them. It is also my intention to use streaming as a means of trying before I buy - albums I stream that I really like will be purchased on CD as well.
 

WayneKerr

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2022
439
344
1,270
To free up some space, I will store the CD's elsewhere in the house. I certainly won't be getting rid of them. It is also my intention to use streaming as a means of trying before I buy - albums I stream that I really like will be purchased on CD as well.
Have you ripped your CD collection already?
 

Din5

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2021
51
15
545
Why not take your amp into a friendly dealership and try it with some of their speakers ?
That should uncover if you need to change the speakers or the amp..
 

TheDonald

Active member
Dec 7, 2022
9
4
25
Have you ripped your CD collection already?
The big rip is almost complete!

I'm very pleased with my purchases. The AE109's are a massive improvement on the Tannoys they've replaced and my amp has really come to life now. I was slightly concerned it might struggle with the 4 ohm load of the speakers, but I haven't noticed any issues so far. Both my partner and I are enjoying streaming from Qobuz too.
 

WayneKerr

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2022
439
344
1,270
The big rip is almost complete!

I'm very pleased with my purchases. The AE109's are a massive improvement on the Tannoys they've replaced and my amp has really come to life now. I was slightly concerned it might struggle with the 4 ohm load of the speakers, but I haven't noticed any issues so far. Both my partner and I are enjoying streaming from Qobuz too.
Excellent! Enjoy (y)
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheDonald

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts