1000-1500 euro bookshelf speakers for rotel ra 1520 amp

rainsoothe

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hello, it's me again with my B&W 602 S3 speakers on the rotel ra 1520 amp. sorry for spamming these forums with my silly questiions by the way. anywho, after reading some reviews and also listening to some speakers, i'm starting to feel the need for a more spacious sound. i like how my speakers sound with my new amp, but the problem i have with them is that i can hear where the sound is coming from. so i'm looking for some nice speakers to place on some piece of furniture (no room for dedicated stands, + i have a clumsy dog, so stands are really out of the question for now) to go well with my amp.

with the risk of sounding repetitive to people who read my previous posts, i'll write as much as i can about the music and sound i like, also my room size.

music: classick rock, progressive rock and metal (pink floyd, transatlantic, focus, yes, dream theater), some electronica or trip-hop bands (zero 7, air, morcheeba), some classical (rachmaninov, beethoven, debussy), and the occasional prodigy and drum and base. i know, it's a lot of different genres, which makes this a bit difficult.

room: my room is 3.3/5.4/2.5 (W/L/H in meters). the speakers will be positioned against the 3.3 meter wall. also, i think i'll be geting a carpet :p

gear: main source is a pc for now, and the forseable future. it has an M-Audio delta 1010lt soundcard in it for now, but a DAC will be coming within the year. (sidequestion here: i've been reading a lot of good things about arcam rDac, rega DAC and MF VDAC II - are they worth a listen? i have only listened to Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1, which sounded great with marantz and creek audio amps)

what i'm looking for: basically i would like holographic, spacey, smooth and accurate sound, with plenty of detail. I would like not to notice where the sound is coming from, a deep and big soundstage. My speakers will be positioned like 25 cm away from the wall, and I want the bass to sound good and present, but never boomy or wooly. (sorry if i'm not using the correct words). Also I would like smooth trebble, never harsh.

MY CURRENT SHORTLIST IS:

- B&W 685 (yes, i know they're cheap, and perhaps in a lower category, but I would give them a listen, because I like the B&W and Rotel sinergy a lot).

- XTZ 99.26 mkII - i have auditioned the cheaper XTZ 93.23 and I was really impressed with the sound they produced(especially for their price) but with other amps, and I don't know how well they would go with the Rotel amp.

from here down it's only reviews I'm basing my choices on

- Elac BS244 - from what I read I'm wondering if they would sound too bright and bassy with rotel and positioning + room size? Also, their nominal impedance is 4 ohm and on the website it says they require at least 50W of amplification. Rotel says it has 60, and mesurements in reviews place it at around 95 - but i'm rather noobish at all this stuff.

- PMC DB1i - reviews says it lacks some detail and magic the Spendors provide.

- Spendor SA1 - for the time being, this is the most likely candidate from what I've read. I read though that they're a bit insensitive, and I'm wondering if my Rotel has enough juice to drive them and drive them good. Also considering the cheaper Spendor S3-5R2. Second issue - is their bass that feint as some people say, or is it enough? Note that I don't need my walls to tremble in order to enjoy music, but I don't want the bass to be absent either, I want for music to sound magical and whimsical, even if it's metal - if you can immagine that.

Thanks a bunch in advance, and please help me making my shortlist as informed as possible.
 

whiskywheels

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I ran my RA1520 and Audiolab 8200CD through some 685's for a while. It sounded fine, although the bass seemed a bit muddled and wooly at times. They're very good speakers for the price. I now run PMC DB1i mounted on Soundstyle Z2 stands (as were the 685s), and this has been a total transformation. There is great detail and dynamic range, a superb bass which suits both contemporary and classical music, and a good broad soundstage, at least in my listening room. You'll obviously have to listen for yourself, but I find this system to be quite stunning, and a huge improvement over the B&Ws. As usual, it's virtually impossible to audition the mix of equipment you want at one dealer, unless you bring your own amp in. I seem to remember the PMCs were widely available at Sevenoaks Hifi, but they don't do the Rotel amp. I didn't audition the Spendor or Elac speakers so can't comment.
 

paradiziac

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Just to throw a spanner in the works.

Get the DAC first and take that with your amp to audition speakers.

The reason being, the ability of a system to produce the kind of holographic soundstage you describe depends not just on the speakers, everything upstream has to be spot on as well.

I think to get that kind of sound won't be too cheap -- but good luck!
 

rainsoothe

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thanks for the replies - defenately keeping the PMC on my shortlist then - and btw, I don't live in the UK, so I'll have to take my amp to the showrooms anyway, since no hi-fi store has rotels for auditioning. also gonna look into the B&W CM1's.

@paradiziac - so basically, it would be ideal to try both speakers + dac on the spot, in order to save a trip and hastle carrying speakers around i guess? since, i guess, speakers and no dac = dac and no speakers - i mean i'll have to do the matching accordingly no matter the order i purchase them in

thanks again, and keep it coming please
 

paradiziac

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rainsoothe said:
@paradiziac - so basically, it would be ideal to try both speakers + dac on the spot, in order to save a trip and hastle carrying speakers around i guess? since, i guess, speakers and no dac = dac and no speakers - i mean i'll have to do the matching accordingly no matter the order i purchase them in

True, it's almost the same thing.

However, you might get more of the sound you're after by feeding your current speakers with a better source than the other way around. The system is only as good as the weakest link...which I suggest might be the source in your case, though it's only a guess as I haven't heard it! But generally it's pretty hard to get good sound from a computer cheaply, been there done that!

It's also easier to home demo a bunch of dacs as they're cheaper to post out.
 

AlmaataKZ

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Consider this as an additional option: AVI ADM9T (based on my experience of direct compariosn of the 9Ts and PMC DB1i

In my experience - 9Ts will sound clearer than the PMCs and will have faster bass. PMCs will sound as if they have 'more' bass. The 9Ts will have a bit higher dynamic range so will sound excellent with classical. You will get lots of clarity.

If you go for this option you do not need to buy a DAC and can get rid of the amp. This can give you some budget towards a sub if you want it.

Just an option. I recommend trying the 9Ts. Take a complex dynamic loud track - you will be impressed.

I do not have experience of the other speakers you listed.

Edit: re the matching aspect: With 9Ts, especially if you use digital input, you will not have to worry about matching the source/amp/speakers. There is no need to match with digital and the amp/speakers are ideally matched by design.
 

Thompsonuxb

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You won't get the sound your looking for from the Rotel 1520 - hate to be negative, but it just does not have the power to liberate the music from the confines of your speakers in my experience with the amp. The more demanding the speakers the higher up the price scale you go the more it'll struggle.

Saying that the PMC's may be your best choice with its enhanced bass tech or maybe a pair of dynaudio with similar talent - its a clear sounding amp that favours the upper frequency range noticeble with voices too. So that speaker trait may give you what you desire without the holographic bit.

Speakers with an 85db sensitivity ....... NAAAAH.
 

rainsoothe

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hey and thank you for the additions.

@ almaata kz - i've actually read about that, but i'm not planning on ditching the rotel anytime soon, since i just got it and i like it's sound a lot. also i'm a bit of a separate fan, so it's not really what i'm looking for.

@ thompson uxb - don't worry, it's not bad news. i know i'm describing a very high level sound, and i don't have the illusion of being able to obtain 20000k euro sound with my budget and amp, but that's the direction i'm aiming for, so i wanna get as close to that as possible with my budget and amp. so i'll defenately check the PMC's then. can you also elaborate on the 85 db sensitivity thing please? i'm newbie to this stuff, and i don't really know how that works - the only conclusion i've been able to draw so far is that the lower the sensitivity, the lower volume my amp will produce with them? or is it less detail? etc. thanks

@ exshopguy - thanks, but although i read good stuff about them, they're a bit too big for what i'm looking for - space in my room is somewhat of a concern as well.

-----------

that being said - anyone know anything about KEF R300? was thinking about adding that to my list. i'm just concerned that they might sound too bassy for my room and placement possibilities, and also a bit too bright - considering my amp and what i've read about the cheaper Q300?
 
Hi rainsoothe

I think you should also consider ATC's SCM11 monitors. SCM11's with their closed box designs and importantly low distortion, flat and honest prentation help them to be placed closed to walls without the LF in particular getting itself into a twist. No bloom, gloom, boom or bling but instead the SCM11's reproduce (amongst their other qualities) the stability and the power of the sound in a highly detailed, controlled, uncoloured and natural manner.

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
 

SpursGator

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I am not a huge fan of your speakers, but what you are looking for needs to be addressed with the amp. As someone else said, the limitations you are hearing are the Rotel, not the speakers. See if you can audition a much nicer amp at home with your system - the difference will surprise you. It isn't the speakers!

Check out the Benchmark DAC1 as a source - I have one and it's very much the sound you are looking for.

As far as speakers, +1 for the ATC's (although I am not a huge fan - not because they don't sound great, but because I still listen to a lot of bootleg recordings, and nothing sounds worse than a bad recording through ATCs). Also +1 on the PMC DB1is (in fact I just ordered a pair, which I will review when I receive them). I agree with a previous poster that a sealed box would be best, but IMO the Spendor SA1s are hideously overpriced. They are good but not 50% better than the ATCs or the PMCs.

But to get what you say you are looking for, buy a DAC and upgrade your amp. Then later you can get some nice speakers that match your new amp. Buying new speakers now will not give you what you are looking for.
 
SpursGator said:
As far as speakers, +1 for the ATC's (although I am not a huge fan - not because they don't sound great, but because I still listen to a lot of bootleg recordings, and nothing sounds worse than a bad recording through ATCs).

Hi SpursGator

I am going to differ with you as on the contrary and in my experience i've found bad recordings to sound listenable through ATC monitors. Because ATC minimize the compromise on their monitors then when high quality music and movie soundtracks are used, ATC's low distortion monitors in turn enable these quality recordings to breathe much further :)

Studio Control Monitor

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
 

Frank Harvey

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If you like the PMC sound, try the Twenty.21's. I've always found the i-Series a little on the warm side as far as the bass is concerned, and this does have an effect on the overall sound. The 21's are still the usual lively, easy to drive speaker that PMC are known for, but the Twenty series sounds a little more like a studio monitor (their background is professional studio monitors) than the DB1i's, and bring out much more detail because of it. I find their tonal balance to be much more even too, so bass doesn't take over - its still deep as they use PMC's Advanced Transmission Line, but it doesn't 'make itself known', so to speak. Another big difference is that I find them much more three dimensional, or holographic, as you mention. You really can hear further into the mix than with many other speakers at a similar price point. Listen to rough stuff like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and it's scary the detail you can hear!

Worth giving them a try, and while it's a personal preference whether you like the DB1i or the Twenty.21, the 21's definitely sound a better match to what you're looking for.
 

rainsoothe

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wow, a lot of great input here, thanks a bunch.

- @ spursgator - it might be the amp too, but i auditioned my speakers on a bunch of different amps (same price range though - Creek Evolution 2, XTZ Aclass D100, Marantz PM 7004), with the same result (xcept for the extra harshness i mentioned). Then, I listened to XTZ 93.23 (that's the number i hope) on the same amps, and I found them to sound way better then my B&W's (haven't checked the XTZ on the Rotel though), and much closer to the sound i'm describing - and that's a cheap pair of speakers (the xtz). So I can only assume that on better built higher class speakers that can only improve more.

- also, on the Benchmark DAC, I can't find it anywhere here in Romania (that's where I'm from by the way), so with that I'm caught inbetween trusting all the pozitive things i read about it on the web and buying it blindly, or ending up with a crappier one, but a crappier one I can listen to.

- @ Rick - I've read only pozitive reviews about the ATC SCM11's, but I have the same problem as with the Benchmark DAC - as in there's no hi-fi shop selling them in Romania. So two questions arise, and I would love if you could help me with the clarifying:

1. do you know how I can purchase them here, or if there's any online shops that sell over the internet and ship the stuff, or get a trial on them or whatever? I'm not sure how this stuff really works, so shedding any kind of light on the matter would be marvelous.

2. Would they pair up ok with the Rotel, since i notice they have the same sensitivity (85db) as the Spendors, and people here are saying it won't have enough juice for the ATC's.

I should mention that I only use the volume knob on my rotel on 10 o'clock maximum position, maybe 11 if it's during the day and I'm sure my neigbours are out, otherwise, it usually stays closely under 9 o'clock, since the flat i'm living in is in a crummy building, and people can hear stuff through the walls pretty easily. Would that have any effect on the low sensitivity stuff and turning it higher would yield better results? Or that's not how the sensitivity stuff really works? As I mentioned, I'm rather newbish at this stuff, so sorry for my blasphemous questions.

- @ David - the PMC twenty.21 look like very good stuff, at least on paper, and I think I might be able to audition them. Only thing is that they're 450 euro more expensive then the DB1i's and 400 euro more then the Spendor SA1 here. I'm trying to keep myself from spending more then I can afford (I guess I could pull that cash, but I'm trying really hard not to go overboard), but if you say they're that good, I'll give them a listen, and if they grab me by my soul, I'll try to save up for them and get prepaired for girlfriend aggro ;)

I'll be arranging my auditions within the next 3 weeks, as time allows.

Thanks again for all the help you nice people are providing me with.
 

SpursGator

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MUSICRAFT said:
I am going to differ with you as on the contrary and in my experience i've found bad recordings to sound listenable through ATC monitors. Because ATC minimize the compromise on their monitors then when high quality music and movie soundtracks are used, ATC's low distortion monitors in turn enable these quality recordings to breathe much further :)

There's no way I want to be part of a debate in which I am arguing against the ATCs. In my too-brief audition, I found myself not wanting to listen to bad recordings...but let's face it, I am a bit of a weeny.

With a great recording the ATCs had me cursing to myself under my breath. Merde (or something like that)...how did they get it that crisp. They are really good...in perfect focus. And they are sealed boxes.

Rick's recommendation for the OP is better than the PMCs or (for sure) the Spendors. So I'll shut up now. But I still think he should upgrade the Rotel. Plus most of it is on his computer and he's running it off his sound card. Why are talking about speakers?
 

bigblue235

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rainsoothe - You're looking at exactly the sort of speakers I'm considering. If you hear the XTZ 99 series please let me know what you think. I'm very curious about those and the AVI ADMs, but I can't get a demo of either of them where I live.

I'd love to see some more XTZ reviews in the mag.
 

rainsoothe

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@ bigblue235 - will do, but it will be a couple of weeks or so.

- on the sensitivity issue: i looked it up, and now i understand how it works, so the question that remains is whether 85 db is too low or not? The reviewer on "the absolute sound" said he even tried the Rotel RA 1520 with some 83 db sensitivity ATC's and it was strained of course, but he deducted the 1520 pulls close to 100 watts. I'm asking in case i decide to buy ATC SCM11's by remote, since I won't have a way to audition them. I guess I could also check on the spendors when I audition them, but I might not even bother with that if their sensitivity is that low for my amp.

thanks
 

BenLaw

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An 85db speaker would be 3db quieter than an 88db speaker at 1m at 1watt. It's hardly the be all and end all. More importantly, the ATCs present a stable load (their impedance does not drop too much) so they are actually much easier to drive than many people (most of whom haven't used them) claim. Of course, like any speaker, the better the amplification the more you'll get out of them.
 

rainsoothe

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actually, if I understand it correctly, if I want an 85 db sensitivity speaker to sound as loud as an 88 db sensitivity speaker, the 85db one would require twice as much amplifier power (3 db difference requires twice the amplification power). I might have gotten it wrong though. Guess I'll test the Spendors anyway, to see how it actually behaves in reallity, and in the meantime I'll try to find a way to get ATCs in my country. I read that the EB Acoustics EB2 are quite similar to the ATC's, perhaps even better (i noticed they have 88 db sensitivity) and since i'm probably not gonna be able to audition either of them, EB would be the way to go. Only thing is that I read they have a lot of trouble with their shipments atm (they can't meet the demand or something), so that's kind of a turn off :p
 

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