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£1200 to spend on speakers and amp

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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Ok - so I've £1200 to spend on speakers and amp.
Or at least that's what I think I need to get to overhaul my uncle's aging and starting to fail system.

Currently he has an A&R Cambridge Arcam Alpha amp, and a circa 20 year old Aiwa CD deck, with an additional CD duplicator.
He also has an old legacy record deck which is more or less redundant, and an old cassette deck. Primarily though he listens to vintage and modern rock.

So, one of his circa 40yr old Goodmans speakers blows, and he's at a loss what to do.

So - for this sort of budget ceiling what should we be looking to get?

His listening room is sort of standardish bedroom size - it's not massive, though I don't have exact dimensions - I will be getting these tonight.

Initially he was just wanting to replace the speakers, and stick with his current amp, but as it's really underpowered (35w per channel stereo), it probably won't do any new speakers justice.

My initial searches uncovered a few options of speakers that look reasonably priced and of high quality. I haven't demoed any of these - I'm going solely on online reviews and user feedback on forums. Given the age of his system, I wouldn't have thought any sonic signature he's used to is relevant to speccing this new system, as probably everything we look at is going to blow it out the water.

Anyway, speakers I've been interested in so far based on some current prices against RRP, and reviews, user comments.

Tannoy DC6T Revolution are currently circa £500
AE Aelite 3 - £500
Focal 726V - circa £700
Epos Epic 5 - £750
PMC DB1S Plus - £750
Mordaunt - Short Mezzo - £650

Is there anything else I should be considering?

What amps should I be looking at for this new system?

Should I seriously be considering a new CD player and maybe a DAC within this budget potentially to the detriment of what can be spent on the speakers and amp?

Any help would be incredibly appreciated.
My uncle loves his music, but doesn't keep up to date with kit hence why his system is generally quite old - but hey, if it ain't broke you don't need to fix it right?

His systems broke now though lol, and I'd like to be able to suggest a system that would blow his socks off - but though I do know a fair bit about audio stuff - HIFI is a bit of a blind spot, as I listen to all my music through my home studio set up and my Tannoy Ellipse 8s.
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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Does he only want Floorstander speakers?

Amps I would consider Creek A50 £700, Arcam A19 £650 and Marantz Pearl Lite £680.
 

altruistic.lemon

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Jul 25, 2011
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The amp may be fine, it does depend on the speakers. Something like the Triangles or Focals are easy to drive and wouldn't need an amp upgrade.

For that money, and given his tastes, the Epos Elan would be a good choice, heard some recently and not half bad. Match that with a creek amp and I wouldn't think you would go far wrong - being the same company.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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subharmonic said:
HIFI is a bit of a blind spot, as I listen to all my music through my home studio set up and my Tannoy Ellipse 8s.
As you are familiar with actives, may I suggest a look at the AVI website and the ADM9s. They would bust the budget by £50 though and you might need a phono stage if your uncle wants to still listen to his TT, but then that applies to other more traditional hifi amps too.

Other opinions differ, but I'd want a bit more than 35W from an amp, although the speakers you listed should sound fine.
 

altruistic.lemon

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Jul 25, 2011
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By the way, your uncle should really go along and audition, or ask for a demo at home. What sounds good to one person's ears may sound horrible to someone else - and there would be, I'm guessing, a big difference between your younger ears and his!
 

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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I know what you're saying re: each person having individual sonic tastes - I'm just not sure if he'd schedule for an audition.

I'd say it's probably difficult to audition everything that's out there in this bracket - though a lot of these speakers are available from Superfi currently, and he does have one fairly local.

What he won't be able to try is the Focals which seem to get excellent feedback from owners, though reviews are a bit thin on the ground.

The ADM 9.1 sound quite interesting - I think though he appreciates the centralised nature of an integrated amp - If he were to get these, what would he need between speakers and CD player? Could he directly connect CD to speakers? What about switching to hist TT on the odd occasion he dusts down an old bootleg?
 

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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Floor standers aren't a necessity - we just want gods honest bang for buck.

Obviously stands cost money, so they might eat into the budget a bit - but we can cross that bridge if it makes sense.

His existing speakers weren't floor standers anyway, but, I don't think he has proper stands - he'd probably need to invest in some.
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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subharmonic said:
I know what you're saying re: each person having individual sonic tastes - I'm just not sure if he'd schedule for an audition.

I'd say it's probably difficult to audition everything that's out there in this bracket - though a lot of these speakers are available from Superfi currently, and he does have one fairly local.

What he won't be able to try is the Focals which seem to get excellent feedback from owners, though reviews are a bit thin on the ground.

The ADM 9.1 sound quite interesting - I think though he appreciates the centralised nature of an integrated amp - If he were to get these, what would he need between speakers and CD player? Could he directly connect CD to speakers? What about switching to hist TT on the odd occasion he dusts down an old bootleg?
I would go to Superhi and hear some systems to get an idea. I think Superfi stock Acoustic Energy speakers they are worth hearing try the new 301s get 5 star review in WHF. Creek and Epos are difficult to find but they do have a 14 day trial if you cant get to a dealer but guess you have to pay return postage?

The ADMs have DAC and amp inside the speaker so all you need to do is plug the cd player in with supplied cable. Reasonable stands cost about £50-£60.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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subharmonic said:
The ADM 9.1 sound quite interesting - I think though he appreciates the centralised nature of an integrated amp - If he were to get these, what would he need between speakers and CD player? Could he directly connect CD to speakers? What about switching to hist TT on the odd occasion he dusts down an old bootleg?
These actives also include preamp and DAC and are remote controlled, the sources are selected on the remote, so yes, the CD could be connected directly.
 

altruistic.lemon

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Jul 25, 2011
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It's also true to say there are other options if you choose to go the active speaker route. Adam audio, Genelec, Yamaha are all possible choices, plus there are the new Dynaudio Xeos wireless active speakers, which might be just the thing for the given the location.
 

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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What would you need to switch between sources though?

Like I said - although he doesn't use them, he does have a TT, a CD duplicator, and an old cassette player and he will want some means to switch between sources. Difficult to do if you don't have them patched into something - and so what would you use here?
 

altruistic.lemon

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Jul 25, 2011
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You can buy switches from Maplins to do that, but I think maybe an integrated amp + speakers are the way to go given the nature of his system. There's also far more choice.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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subharmonic said:
What would you need to switch between sources though?

Like I said - although he doesn't use them, he does have a TT, a CD duplicator, and an old cassette player and he will want some means to switch between sources. Difficult to do if you don't have them patched into something - and so what would you use here?
The ADM9s have two digital and one analogue input on the back, so could accomodate that many sources at least, but for multiple analouge inputs, then you would need a source selector such as THIS. That is starting to complicate matters though and moving away from simple and integrated, however cheap it may be.

The image below is of the ADM9s connectivity if it helps.

 

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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Yes - I tend to agree - I think it might be a bit complex otherwise for him to get his head round.

He doesn't use a computer as source - doesn't seem to me that he's ever likely to either.

I can see him possibly going down the route of maybe getting spotify - or streaming some stuff - maybe at some point.

Having DAB of some kind in there I think he might find handy too.
 

altruistic.lemon

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Jul 25, 2011
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Also bear in mind that the CD player and copier may well not have analogue outputs, which makes them hard to use with both the Dynaudio and AVI solution.

You may want to consider NAD amplifiers, too. They're a bit cheaper than the ones mentioned, which allows you to spend more on speakers, but sound pretty good.
 

AL13N

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Nov 29, 2009
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subharmonic said:
Ok - so I've £1200 to spend on speakers and amp. Or at least that's what I think I need to get to overhaul my uncle's aging and starting to fail system.

Initially he was just wanting to replace the speakers, and stick with his current amp, but as it's really underpowered (35w per channel stereo), it probably won't do any new speakers justice.

My initial searches uncovered a few options of speakers that look reasonably priced and of high quality. I haven't demoed any of these - I'm going solely on online reviews and user feedback on forums.
For new speakers you could look at relatively efficient designs such as single-driver or crossoverless speakers.

For amplifier/speaker combinations you'll find many good options within your budget. Going second-hand or ex-dem will stretch your budget further but at the cost of a warranty or length of warranty.

For active speakers, given the current setup, a preamplifier/active speakers combination would work well. In fact, if the current amplifier has "Pre-out" connections you could use these to drive the speakers.

The best advice I can give is to audition. The written word can only get you so far (composing an audition list). After all, we are talking about audio reproduction not literary appreciation.

Good Luck
 

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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Forget active speakers - I only mentioned my Tannoys because that is my background.

He'll be far more at home with a more traditional type of set up.

Regarding auditioning set-ups.

I have told him about this - but whenever I've suggested it, I've been quickly rebuffed.

I know - it maybe sounds daft given how much he's likely to spend - but this is what he's said to me.

At the moment, based on a couple of things, (obviously not an audition) he likes the idea of the Arcam FMJ19 and a set of Monitor Audio's - given the price point - probably the RX6s.

Does anyone know how this might pan out? I'm sure, compared with what he had, this would sound good anyway - question is whether it will be the best combination.

I realise it's a "how long is a bit of string" question because we don't know exactly what he's going to do with the system - the fact is that he doesn't either. Once introduced to certain things he embraces them - but he's quite stuck in his ways, and has huge loyalty to brands he likes - hence the Arcam suggested above.

Regarding the Arcam - I've also read elsewhere that the FMJ18 is very similar and can be had for half the price, though doesn't have a headphone output (I think). Would this be adequate for a set of RX6?

And regarding the RX6s - should these really be considered ahead of the Tannoys I mentioned above, or the Epos Epic 5s, The Focal 726, or KEF LS50 (which I jjust read about which sound interesting and are meant to be a good pairing with the FMJ19).

Is there anything else we should be considering?
 

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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At a fundamental level - what he will be using the system for is music - and potentially using the components I listed above - ie CD player and duplicator (it's a one to one type - ie one CD in one tray, and another tray for the copy), TT, and cassette deck. So at the very least the new amp will need to be able to deal with these inputs.
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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As you say the Arcam 18 is half price in fact you can get it for £300 inc 5 year warranty. The RX6s may work if he has enough space, don't put them near corners and at least 1 foot from walls.
 

altruistic.lemon

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Jul 25, 2011
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Both amps are 50W, so no problem there.

As to the speakers, bear in mind the LS50 is a stand mount while all the others are floor standers. Also, it is small so if he likes room-shaking bass, he won't get it.
 

subharmonic

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Apr 15, 2013
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Ah - ok. I'm not concerned about the size of the speakers - really it's performance.

I guess he likes having a bass that's quite present - and if these are that small, they might struggle to push enough air for a reasonable bass effect - he doesn't really listen to dance music - though he is a big Kraftwerk fan, and likes some 80's electro - so maybe good bass performance would be advantageous - that rules out the KEFs then.
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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Maybe you should go and listen to some different speakers and see what you think and then suggest the best to him. Is he bother about colour, some speakers only come in black, some have real veneer finishes, some plastic veneer.

I will be hearing the Epos Epic 5s with the Creek A50 amp. on Saturday.
 

Ajani

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Apr 9, 2008
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Arcam and Monitor Audio is popular combo, and should have good synergy. The RX6 is relatively efficient, so the 50 watts of the A19 should be more than adequate. If you have a good option to return it if he doesn't like it, then I'd just suggest buying that combo and letting him try it at home to see if meets his needs.
 

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