Question Amp + Speakers to a small room

Tomek

Member
May 10, 2020
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Hi!

I've recently moved to a new apartment and I'm trying to use it as an excuse to improve my stereo.

I currently have Technics SU-VX500 Amp with Alcomax gamma floorstanders (80/150W, 8ohm), connected to Rega Planar 2 turntable.This has been my first stereo ever and I got it for nothing, so I've never really wondered if it gives me the sound quality I want. I used to listen to it in a much larger room though and now I neither have the space for this gear nor I'm satisfied with its performance.

I'm therefore looking for new gear and I'm thinking of a setup with TT + PreAmp + Amp + Standmount Speakers, as I would ideally like to have the below layout.

layout.JPG

Do you have any recommendations on:
1. If placing one speaker on a cabinet and one on a stand of equal height is a bad idea and if so, how bad it is
2. Whether to use Rega Fono A2D Mini as the PreAmp or Dynavox UPR-2.0 instead, to have a headphone output from the PreAmp. I would like to spend <$200 on the PreAmp, new or used and each of these would cost me around $100
3. How you would split your budget between speakers and amp? I intend to spend $800 tops, is it reasonable to to spend equally on speakers and amp?
3. What speakers + amp combo to choose within my budget?. For speakers, I've been thinking about ELAC Debut B5.2, Q Acoustics 3020i or Triangle Borea BR03 from the new ones, but I'm also looking at used Chario Syntar 100 and B&W DM 601 S3. I'm clueless about the amp though. Doesn't need to have a phono stage as I'm gonna have a separate preamp to place the tt far from the speakers, I would also prioritise getting best sound out of the tt over multifunctionality (bluetooth, 50 different inputs etc.)

I listen mostly to jazz and hip-hop, but in general a fairly wide range of genres. Medium loud, not a huge fan of deep bass.

Any advice would be largely appreciated!
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
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Do you have any recommendations on:
1. If placing one speaker on a cabinet and one on a stand of equal height is a bad idea and if so, how bad it is?


Its not ideal at all, but if its your only option then it will have to do.


2. Whether to use Rega Fono A2D Mini as the PreAmp or Dynavox UPR-2.0 instead, to have a headphone output from the PreAmp. I would like to spend <$200 on the PreAmp, new or used and each of these would cost me around $100

Don't really know this one, id say pick your poison and what works for you.


3. How you would split your budget between speakers and amp? I intend to spend $800 tops, is it reasonable to to spend equally on speakers and amp?

Yes, id even spend more on the amp and less on the speakers so a 40 60 (maybe) split in favour of the amp.


3. What speakers + amp combo to choose within my budget?. For speakers, I've been thinking about ELAC Debut B5.2, Q Acoustics 3020i or Triangle Borea BR03 from the new ones, but I'm also looking at used Chario Syntar 100 and B&W DM 601 S3. I'm clueless about the amp though. Doesn't need to have a phono stage as I'm gonna have a separate preamp to place the tt far from the speakers, I would also prioritise getting best sound out of the tt over multifunctionality (bluetooth, 50 different inputs etc.)

Your speakers are all good shouts, The B&Ws are a bit grumpy and need a bit of power though to get the best out of them so bear that in mind. I'd probably also add Klipsch into the mix as well. As well as kef

Amps! Yamaha, NAD, Rotel will give the above plenty of power to work with. Maybe look preloved for a better bang for buck, A "vintage"(cheeses 20 years ago now I had one of these) NAD 320bee would sound amazing and put many more expensive amps to shame today. You can pick up plenty on the big E
 

Al ears

Moderator
Nov 23, 2008
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With your layout why cannot you move everything to the right then have both your speakers on stands either side of the amp cabinet?
The position of your preamp and turntable means a very long cable run to the amp.
Personally I'd be looking for a rack that can accommodate them all in one place.
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
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Yes, id even spend more on the amp and less on the speakers so a 40 60 (maybe) split in favour of the amp.
I simply don't understand this. Could you expand a little as to why?

IME, good speakers are much much better than bad ones, while the differences between high-end and entry-level amplifiers are much smaller.
There are lots of reports of testing between amplifiers etc (here's one: http://matrixhifi.com/ENG_contenedor_ppec.htm) which suggest the differences are, at best, very small.

At sensible drive levels, a speaker might sit between 0.5 and 5% THD across its range - way more than any HiFi amp. The speakers will also have non-flat frequency- and phase-response curves while a decent amp will be linear from 5Hz to 30kHz, give or take.

Surely it would be better to spend money where it'll make the biggest difference.

Chris
 

12th Monkey

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2015
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I can see arguments either way - it also makes sense that the best possible source means that you lose as little quality early on - all components degrade sound to some extent so what you lose earlier in the chain you can never get back later on. Who knows?

The difference between good and bad speakers might be greater, but if you are only selecting from well-reviewed ones I am not sure that tells you anything hard and fast about apportioning budget. Again, who knows? Having a listen is the only way to decide.

I reckon the differences between entry level and high end amps are pretty big, based upon my particular personal experiences.
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
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I don't know. To me it seems like polishing a small scratch out of the front of a car, when the back half has been worked over with a sledgehammer.

Chris
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
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Perhaps, but it illustrates my point. When speakers are as non-linear as they are, IMO they ought to get the most attention if high-fidelity sound is the goal.

Chris
 

Al ears

Moderator
Nov 23, 2008
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Perhaps, but it illustrates my point. When speakers are as non-linear as they are, IMO they ought to get the most attention if high-fidelity sound is the goal.

Chris
You can buy the best speakers you like but if your amp cannot drive them sufficiently well you're wasting your money.
Realistically speaker development has come on in leaps and bounds and, more importantly their prices have dropped, so you should spend more on the amplifier than the speakers for an equivalent package that, years ago, might have seen the opposite.
 

Tomek

Member
May 10, 2020
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Your speakers are all good shouts, The B&Ws are a bit grumpy and need a bit of power though to get the best out of them so bear that in mind. I'd probably also add Klipsch into the mix as well. As well as kef

Amps! Yamaha, NAD, Rotel will give the above plenty of power to work with. Maybe look preloved for a better bang for buck, A "vintage"(cheeses 20 years ago now I had one of these) NAD 320bee would sound amazing and put many more expensive amps to shame today. You can pick up plenty on the big E
Thanks for your advice, much appreciated!

With your layout why cannot you move everything to the right then have both your speakers on stands either side of the amp cabinet?
The position of your preamp and turntable means a very long cable run to the amp.
Personally I'd be looking for a rack that can accommodate them all in one place.
Can't move the listener's position, I'm afraid. I can move the Preamp and TT to the amp cabinet (which happens to be the TV cabinet as well) though. The TT & preamp here are on top of my record rack and I want to try having the TT there for aesthetics and convenience. Very true about the long cable, this is why I want to use a separate preamp as I've assumed that if one cable needs to be that long, I would lose the least on preamp to amp connection (instead of amp to speakers) - would you agree?

I'm conscious that this layout might just sound wrong and then I will have to put TT with the amp and then both speakers on stands, but in front of the amp cabinet, instead of one speaker on top of it.

Which makes me think this - with the current layout I don't need my amp to have a phono stage as I will use a separate preamp, but if I'm forced to put all gear together, I may just as well use an amp with built-in phono stage. So my next question is: are amp without preamp usually better than the ones with preamp for the same money?

You can buy the best speakers you like but if your amp cannot drive them sufficiently well you're wasting your money.
Realistically speaker development has come on in leaps and bounds and, more importantly their prices have dropped, so you should spend more on the amplifier than the speakers for an equivalent package that, years ago, might have seen the opposite.
Sounds like a good advice, thanks!
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
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10,870
You can buy the best speakers you like but if your amp cannot drive them sufficiently well you're wasting your money.
Realistically speaker development has come on in leaps and bounds and, more importantly their prices have dropped, so you should spend more on the amplifier than the speakers for an equivalent package that, years ago, might have seen the opposite.
Exactly what I was alluding to considering many speakers today are some what insensitive. Even budget speakers need power and power is expensive.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
230
78
10,870
I simply don't understand this. Could you expand a little as to why?

IME, good speakers are much much better than bad ones, while the differences between high-end and entry-level amplifiers are much smaller.
There are lots of reports of testing between amplifiers etc (here's one: http://matrixhifi.com/ENG_contenedor_ppec.htm) which suggest the differences are, at best, very small.

At sensible drive levels, a speaker might sit between 0.5 and 5% THD across its range - way more than any HiFi amp. The speakers will also have non-flat frequency- and phase-response curves while a decent amp will be linear from 5Hz to 30kHz, give or take.

Surely it would be better to spend money where it'll make the biggest difference.

Chris
There’s arguments to both sides. But I think at the budget level it important to get the power sorted first. It’s like putting a 1 liter engine in a 5 ton car. It’s going to struggle ( as you like your automotive analogies).

If it where me I’d be looking at efficiency. And forget power speakers 90db and above . And as long as the power supplies are of good quality and noise free you can pretty much run what ever amp you like all the way down to 3-5watt headphone amps. Efficiency is king and always has been. But each to there own. But this is a million miles away from the op question.

I stick by my advice, allocate more funds to the amp before the speakers epscailly if this is the Ops end game system. And for some this is.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
217
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18,870
I'm in the source + amplification first side as well. @OP - I think having longer speaker cables rather than long interconnects is better, so if you want to keep the TT where you want it, maybe you can place the amp there as well, and just have speaker cables run along the wall.

As for phono pre, a separate one will be better - but with 800$ budget for amp and speakers, you could up that to 1000 if you get an amp with an integrated phonostage, which is something to consider. If you want to go for a separate phonostage still and live in the US, the Schiit Mani is a no-brainer.

For budget amplifiers, I like Rotel, Nad and Marantz - so maybe Rotel + PSB Alpha P5 (or P3), or Marantz/Nad + Triangle/Dali. Of course, ideally you shuld audition and let your ears decide.
 

Willsmusic

Active member
Mar 7, 2020
7
2
25
I would get some easy to drive speakers like the Klipsch RP 500m’s for that room. They are good value in the US too - $350? They deliver good quality ‘Fast’ bass that doesn’t dominate. Spend the rest on amp. Agree with the point on positioning try and get your left speaker out of the corner if you can.
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
191
116
270
You can buy the best speakers you like but if your amp cannot drive them sufficiently well you're wasting your money.
Realistically speaker development has come on in leaps and bounds and, more importantly their prices have dropped, so you should spend more on the amplifier than the speakers for an equivalent package that, years ago, might have seen the opposite.
Tell me, have you ever measured the power output of your amplifier under normal listening levels?

Chris
 

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