Advice needed please: Futureproof hifi for listening at low levels

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Hi all

This is my first post on these forums so please forgive me if I break any rules/etiquette


I have been saving for a while with the idea of buying a hi-fi to use to listen a variety of different styles of music from Classical and Jazz through to Indy/Acoustic. We currently live in a mid-floor flat in a victorian conversion which means that we rarely listen to music at high volumes, and so we're really looking for something that can sing at lowish volumes. Ideally it could also be listed to at greater volumes if we move to somewhere more accomodating but we're never going to need huge power.

We currently have most of our music stored on CD and lossless on hard drive so are fairly flexible around the choice of source, but ideally we would like any set up to have a good DAC and digital inputs so that it will be reasonably futureproof.

We did listen to a couple of set ups a few years ago including Naim 5 cd player and amps, a Naim SuperNait, and a Linn based streaming streaming set up (can't remember the exact one) but none of them really blew us away and none really seemed to deliver great sound at low volumes. In terms of budget I think it all depends on how impressed we are with it but I think around £5-7k is the most my wife will ever let me spend so that's a top end.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Cheers

Nick.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Welcome NK

Here would be my suggestions:

Source : Linn Sneaky (£800)

Amp: Sugden Masterclass IA4 (£4130) or A21SE (£2349)

Speakers: Proac Studio 140 (£1650) or D18 (£2100)

I've gone with floorstanders to help with a weightier sound at lower volumes - what size is the room?

Allow 8-10% of budget for cables.

This should be a very musial system, but at that money, a demo is a must.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Wow, thanks for the quick response

The room is about 17 foot x 12 foot I think but with about 9-10 foot ceilings and timber wooden floors. Not sure quite where we would place the system, but probably roughly in the middle of the long end.

Do you know of any shops which would stock the components you have mentioned above (is it allowed to discuss shops on these forums?)

Cheers

Nick.
 

CnoEvil

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With a room that size, you are most likely looking at floorstanders (or standmount + sub).

If you are on a suspended wooden floor (more than likely), there are inherent problems, but that can be mitigated to a large degree.

Where do you live?

Off back to work now, but I suspect your question will spark a lot of intrest.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
If you are spending that amount of money I suspect most HiFi shops will endeavour to get the products in for your demo even if they don't have them to hand so you will have to book in advance.

You can discuss shops here but the shops aren't allowed to advertise. If you use the supplier section found on the front page of this website it lists a few popular places but be prepared to travel as at that budget you are aiming relatively high.

Also try the section of the forum that is dedicated to user reviews of shops and look for people who have had good experiences.

Also try haggling with the cables as a lot of places will do a good deal if you buy the complete set-up from them. I got a £50 HDMI cable and about £30 worth of misc cables thrown in on a £1000 surround sound system, particularly worth it if you are looking at Bi-wiring etc.

Take a floor plan of your room with you and the guys in the shop will be able to suggest ideal places to place your system.

Its also worth asking about trying Spotify premium on the set-up in the shop as well to see how 320Kb/s sounds as streaming off the net with these types of service is probably the way forward.

Take some of your own music along even if it means taking your laptop and seeing how your tastes sound and also plug in your iPhone or MP3 player as some set-ups play compressed audio a lot better than others. Particularly useful if your friends come round and want to try their stuff although I would say at that budget it wouldn't be a show stopper.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks for your help.

I live in Kennington in South London. I have been to Oranges and Lemons in Clapham Junction and they were very helpful but apart from that I don't really know of how good the other London hifi shops are?
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hi Anima999

Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it. I hadn't thought about taking a floorplan in.

Re Spotify I'm not currently a premium subscriber because I wasn't aware that it gave you a better bitrate. As you say, that would be a nice thing to test because we use the free version quite a lot and given the new limits spotify have imposed we could well go down the subscription route.

Very true re using Iphones etc too, in reality I'm sure we will use a fair bit of low res music just for the convenience. Also, I will probably need to think about how to get radio into a system because my wife listens a lot. I guess with something like a Linn streamer or a Naim Uniti(/qute) that would include radio streaming so could be a practical option, but I don't know how the quality compares to a player only option like the Auraliti 100 and I don't know whether any shops would have those sort of systems to compare them?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Nk you could go down the active route for a neat solution, less boxes. There will be somennew floorstanders out in June/July from Avi with built in amps preamplifier and Dac all you need is a source, pc, Mac, cd or even a Blu-Ray player you could do that easily for about £4000-4.500.
Nick
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Sorry

Your previous post seems to have disappeared since I replied. I live in Kennington in South London. I have been to Oranges and Lemons in Battersea who were very helpful but I don't know about which other shops are worth visiting. I have seen various shops listed in WhatHifi but any recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks

Nick.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
That's an interesting idea. I haven't really active speakers so far during my (brief) research.

Do you have a view on how the sounds compares of active vs passive speakers?

Pretty sure the wife would like the possibility of less boxes!

Thanks

Nick.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Back from work, so I can give more detail.

I also live in a Victorian building, with high ceilings and wooden floors and my hifi/av is in a room a little bigger than you have mentioned.

Your view on an all Linn and Naim system echo mine, but the Linn DS works very well as a source.

A good place to start (if you want to try Sugden), is to look on the "stockist list" section of their website.
While in different shops also look out for - Speakers (PMC GB1i/FB1i; Spendor A5/A6; and Sonos Faber; Harbeth). Amps (Larvardin/Pathos).

Dealers that might be worth checking out are:

Billy Vee (Lewisham)...........Linn + Sugden (possibly not Masterclass) + Proac (only place I've come across that do all 3 makes)
Progressive Audio (Kent).......Sugden/Lavardin + Proac
Raleigh (Raleigh)..............Linn + Sugden
The Audio Warehouse (Reading)..Linn + Sugden + Sonus Faber
Audio Affair (Birmingham)......Sugden + Proac.

For cables - as mentioned above, try to get a deal with dealer that you use. Otherwise, keep an eye out for Telurium Q ("blue" speaker cable + i/c) or Atlas.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Cnoevil has mentioned Billyvee I think they sell Avi so you could compare there sub sat Adm 9.1T's, until the floorstanders are out. Bartlet hifi sold me mine!
Nick
 

AL13N

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Nov 29, 2009
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With that amount of money the key is auditioning. And take your sweet time about it too, even if it means repeat visits. What's a hundred pounds or so on fuel when you're spending upto 7k on Hi-Fi?

I'd also recommend auditioning the AVI ADM40 when they're released. By then you should have plenty of demo experience under your belt and can make up your own mind whether the hype is true or not.

Good Luck.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Nk if you can get to near Bedford I am happy to demo my setup, my room is not ideal but it will give you an idea. I tend to sit in the other end of the room about 20-22 feet away and we have a fire place that gets in the way for your typical sitting position, but hey ho I cannot afford the £5000 to take it out.
Nick
 

Andrew Everard

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May 30, 2007
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Nick21 said:
Nk you could go down the active route for a neat solution, less boxes. There will be somennew floorstanders out in June/July from Avi with built in amps preamplifier and Dac all you need is a source, pc, Mac, cd or even a Blu-Ray player you could do that easily for about £4000-4.500. Nick
Fine suggestion
: a pair of non-existent speakers no-one outside a few (very) interested parties have heard and commented on. How do you know they won't be dreadful?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Andrew they are based on the 9.1's but with built in subs and more inputs and a change to the crossover I believe, I personally haven't heard them yet! But will be visiting the company in May or June. As you know the company have a very good track record and you gave there 9.1 a very good review in the Gramaphone mag. I know you have had one or to words with Ashley in the past and maybe your judgement is not always fair towards members who like and enjoy there products. The op is looking to spend alot of money so it is worth mentioning products that will possibly suit his needs, he will no doubt de demoing many products from many companies and it could take some time so he might like to try them if they are available within his time scale.
Nick
 

oldric_naubhoff

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Mar 11, 2011
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CnoEvil said:
Back from work, so I can give more detail. I also live in a Victorian building, with high ceilings and wooden floors and my hifi/av is in a room a little bigger than you have mentioned. Your view on an all Linn and Naim system echo mine, but the Linn DS works very well as a source. A good place to start (if you want to try Sugden), is to look on the "stockist list" section of their website. While in different shops also look out for - Speakers (PMC GB1i/FB1i; Spendor A5/A6; and Sonos Faber; Harbeth). Amps (Larvardin/Pathos). Dealers that might be worth checking out are: Billy Vee (Lewisham)...........Linn + Sugden (possibly not Masterclass) + Proac (only place I've come across that do all 3 makes) Progressive Audio (Kent).......Sugden/Lavardin + Proac Raleigh (Raleigh)..............Linn + Sugden The Audio Warehouse (Reading)..Linn + Sugden + Sonus Faber Audio Affair (Birmingham)......Sugden + Proac. For cables - as mentioned above, try to get a deal with dealer that you use. Otherwise, keep an eye out for Telurium Q ("blue" speaker cable + i/c) or Atlas.
great advice. but if I could add my 2p I'd say that if you came across Dynaudio speakers on your auditioning quest give a listen to them too. I'd recommend Contour S 1.4 or Focus 140, depending how much you're willing to spend on speakers. even though both of these models are standmounters you'll be surprised how mighty they sound.

for 5-7k GBP budget you're looking at truly hi-fi system and with such I'd stick with pure copper cabling. silver plated copper tends to sound slightly brighter than pure copper and in highly revelaing systems it might cause problems. pure copper surely works better in my system.
 

Shanka

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Jan 10, 2011
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Hi,

In London dealers not too far can recommend are Cornflake nr Goodge St tube, Grahams in Islington, Audio Venue in Ealing all very helpful and would give good advice for the sort of budget you are looking for.

Have had dealings with them all and very helpful, good luck, have fun.
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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my system listed below is superb at all listening levels, and would set you back about 5k including mac. it's pretty ugly though.

as far as i know, the event opals are sold out everywhere until the end of april, and will only be available in pro-audio shops. enormous sound per pound. still pretty ugly though.

in case you hadn't guessed, another vote for actives from me.
 

Andrew Everard

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May 30, 2007
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Nick21 said:
As you know the company have a very good track record and you gave there 9.1 a very good review in the Gramaphone mag.
Yes, I am aware I gave them a very good review.

Nick21 said:
I know you have had one or to words with Ashley in the past
To the best of my knowledge, I have never spoken to the man.

Nick21 said:
maybe your judgement is not always fair towards members who like and enjoy there products.
That's an entirely ridiculous suggestion: I refer you to your earlier comments about my review of the ADM speakers.

My judgement is merely based on the endless shenanigans in the past, where some of those closely associated with the company adopted multiple spurious forum identities in order to promote the products. Such deceptive practice would make anyone wary of those seemingly overkeen to promote a product, even if that means some genuine, and innocent, enthusiasts may get misunderstood in the process.

For that, I am afraid, I blame those spammers of the past, who have spoiled things for those who are genuinely keen on the product and want to share their enthusiasm with others.
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
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Craig M. said:
my system listed below is superb at all listening levels, and would set you back about 5k including mac. it's pretty ugly though.

as far as i know, the event opals are sold out everywhere until the end of april, and will only be available in pro-audio shops. enormous sound per pound. still pretty ugly though.
The good looks of the remote on your new Benchmark more than make up for the speakers
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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nk1982 said:
That's an interesting idea. I haven't really active speakers so far during my (brief) research.

Do you have a view on how the sounds compares of active vs passive speakers?

Pretty sure the wife would like the possibility of less boxes!

Thanks

Nick.
If you like the Sugden (which is class A), and supurb at presenting the types of music that you have mentioned, then you are unlikely to settle for anything that isn't class A.
There is no active speaker, that I'm aware of, that uses this type of amp - it often uses class D, as it produces a lot of power from a small size.

Once you go active (and there is an arguement for doing so), it limits your choice and ties your amp and speakers together, so you can't upgrade one without the other (which may not be a problem). On the other hand, you don't need speaker cables, the synergy between amp and speakers should be assured and the box count is reduced.

When all is said and done, I would stand by my advice, but only you can decide where your money should be spent....demo....demo...demo. :)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I and others have found there is less need to jump onto the upgrade merrygoround. But it is important to demo as others have said. You have a very healthy budget that will buy a great setup, so when you do just sit back and enjoy the misic and don't analyse the system or upgradeitis will soon follow.
Nick
 

BenLaw

Well-known member
Nov 21, 2010
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CnoEvil said:
If you like the Sugden (which is class A), and supurb at presenting the types of music that you have mentioned, then you are unlikely to settle for anything that isn't class A. There is no active speaker, that I'm aware of, that uses this type of amp - it often uses class D, as it produces a lot of power from a small size.
FWIW, ATC are class A up to two thirds of their max power. Other than in a concert hall, I can't imagine anyone getting to that point. So they're effectively class A
 

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