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Finding a new friend

AgedMuso

Active member
Feb 21, 2021
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Hi everyone, and thanks in advance to whoever reads and responds.

My very long serving and much loved Kenwood KA-3020 has finally given up the ghost, and I find myself need to replace it. I have a budget of £1400-2000 with which I'm looking to buy an integrated amp and a music streamer which will, at least initially, be paired with (once again, much loved) Mission 760i SEs - although these too are liable for an upgrade in the next 18 months or so.

The obvious choice seems to be Cambridge Audio's CXA81 and CXN V2.... but, does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks again...
 

muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
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Hi there. I think you should take a look at the blue sound power mode 2i. It has a strong amp section and the streamer built in. All the control is app based except for on the unit itself, if that suits you have amp and streamer all in one.

If that does not suit maybe just a node 2i for streaming duties and something like a musical fidelity ms2i. I'm pretty sure either of these options will be more than a satisfying replacement for your kenwood.

Then there's the marantz pm7000n

Of course there are infinite options so I'm sure you'll get more ideas and input
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
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19,270
I have a budget of £1400-2000 with which I'm looking to buy an integrated amp and a music streamer which will, at least initially, be paired with (once again, much loved) Mission 760i SEs - although these too are liable for an upgrade in the next 18 months or so.
You could just buy active speakers, such as KEF, Dali or Dynaudio.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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Try to audition Arcam's SA30, Hegel H120 and Naim Atom. (The last two need to be discounted in order to fit your budget, maybe you're lucky and find one on sale or an ex-dem unit). My personal preference veers towards the Atom, because it's app is way better than the Arcam's (just don't use it wirelessly) and Naim just get music right, imo. The Hegel doesn't have it's own app, but you can use third party apps like bubble upnp, which are very good. Hegel is the more neutral of the three, and the Arcam is on the forgiving side of things (but not enough to be boring).

For the record, the Cambridge Audio and Marantz apps are mediocre as well, but I think the CXN v2 is compatible with Roon. The Arcam has one advantage in the software department though, which is that it has "Dirac live", which is a sort of form of equalization - it measures the response in your room with a microphone, and adjusts the sound accordingly.
 

ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
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If it was my money i would have the Musical Fidelity M3SI amplifier and the Bluesound Node 2i or Audiolab 6000n on my audition list.
The M3Si is just a brilliant no nonsense old school amplifier that has plenty of current to drive and control any speaker you could throw at it and wont blink at the 6 ohms and 89 db sensitivity of the Mission 760i SE. The 760i Speakers low frequencies are not the best with very little below 70hz and do get quite current heavy if you drive them hard.
The extra grunt from the Musical Fidelity amplifier gives you options like the B&W 707 S2 speakers when you come to upgrade the missions which in a similar size enclosure to your missions drop down to 50hz quite nicely but with lowish sensitivity appreciate the extra power to get the best out of them.
The Bluesound and Audiolab products are both very simple to use and to my ears there is very little between them for sound quality. The presets on the Audiolab now they have the software sorted are quite handy if you switch between streaming companies or multiple NAS drives. The Bluesound app is more intuitive and logically layed out but it doesnt take long to get accustomed to either of them.

Good luck
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
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Try to audition Arcam's SA30, Hegel H120 and Naim Atom. (The last two need to be discounted in order to fit your budget, maybe you're lucky and find one on sale or an ex-dem unit).
 
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millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
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Funny enough I just posted up a system that would probably suit you, some tannoy gold 5's/7's with an RME dac add a streamer of choice well under budget will sound superb though I doubt you will find these in an Hi fi store, you need to visit a decent music store (where they sell instruments)
 

AgedMuso

Active member
Feb 21, 2021
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Thank you all for your suggestions and insights. I'll be auditioning the ARCAM SA30, and the two Musical Fidelity amps, and the Audiolab 6000n. I'm a little bit sceptical that, as streaming/file protocols evolve, one may find oneself having to upgrade to keep up with the streaming technology, even if one were extremely happy with the amplification in an integrated device. I really like the look/reviews of the NAIM Atom... ... ... and I'm sympathetic to the idea that having an excuse to upgrade might be quite useful... :) Thanks again to all who took time to help.
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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Thank you all for your suggestions and insights. I'll be auditioning the ARCAM SA30, and the two Musical Fidelity amps, and the Audiolab 6000n. I'm a little bit sceptical that, as streaming/file protocols evolve, one may find oneself having to upgrade to keep up with the streaming technology, even if one were extremely happy with the amplification in an integrated device. I really like the look/reviews of the NAIM Atom... ... ... and I'm sympathetic to the idea that having an excuse to upgrade might be quite useful... :) Thanks again to all who took time to help.
You are right, I mean no matter where technology goes, streaming will probably still be available in flac format at CD quality at least. If in the end you decide you do wanna keep things separated, the Musical Fidelity amps are great suggestions, and you could pair a Denafrips Ares 2 dac + some streamer/laptop to run through it. Rogue Audio Sphinx v3 and Naim amps (and many more) are also well worth considering (if, again, going for the separate route).
 

AgedMuso

Active member
Feb 21, 2021
5
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Thanks Rainsoothe. A last observation: nobody has stuck up for the CXA81/CXN V2... Could be that everyone feels there's already enough cheerleading in that direct from WhatHiFi et al, but perhaps there's something else... ... ...
 

ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
34
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Thanks Rainsoothe. A last observation: nobody has stuck up for the CXA81/CXN V2... Could be that everyone feels there's already enough cheerleading in that direct from WhatHiFi et al, but perhaps there's something else... ... ...
When WhatHiFi compared the CXA81 to Saint Pauls Cathedral and started quoting Sir Christopher Wren, you had a feeling the Richersounds marketting budget was influencing the review! Its good, but from someone who has just compared it with the Musical fidelity M3si, the NAD C268 and the Audiolab 8300A its neither class leading or an architectural masterpiece. Dont get me wrong, its a good bit of kit but the hyperbole is just not justified.
 

AndyCC72

Well-known member
Jan 13, 2021
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120
I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Lyngdorf TDAI 1120. Streamer and integrated amp for under £2k. Plus it’s got room perfect.

I’ve read nothing but excellent reviews and feedback from owners on various forums. I’ve never heard It myself but the praise has been grand indeed.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
636
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When WhatHiFi compared the CXA81 to Saint Pauls Cathedral and started quoting Sir Christopher Wren, you had a feeling the Richersounds marketting budget was influencing the review! Its good, but from someone who has just compared it with the Musical fidelity M3si, the NAD C268 and the Audiolab 8300A its neither class leading or an architectural masterpiece. Dont get me wrong, its a good bit of kit but the hyperbole is just not justified.
Pretty much this. You can get better for the money, imo BUT do audition them, they might just be up your alley. I actually rate the CXN very highly, and they'd be my go-to if buying sh (in that price range). But when buying new, you move into Denafrips Ares 2 territory - yes, it's just a DAC, but worth running off of a laptop or whatever until one can afford a transport.
CA amps usually have kind of a "smiling" eq curve and need speakers that can counteract that (like Wharfedale Linton, for example). Again, do audition them.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
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When WhatHiFi compared the CXA81 to Saint Pauls Cathedral and started quoting Sir Christopher Wren, you had a feeling the Richersounds marketting budget was influencing the review! Its good, but from someone who has just compared it with the Musical fidelity M3si, the NAD C268 and the Audiolab 8300A its neither class leading or an architectural masterpiece. Dont get me wrong, its a good bit of kit but the hyperbole is just not justified.
I revisited the review:
Context was:
"Architecture aims at eternity,” said Sir Christopher Wren, architect of surely the world’s most famous rebuild after the Great Fire of London ripped through St Paul’s Cathedral in 1666.

Comparing such magnificent constructions with consumer hi-fi may be a crude parallel, but in rebuilding its 80W-per-channel CX series amplifier, Cambridge Audio has also designed something with the aim of offering that eternal quality.
"

So your take was misleading to leave out it being but a "rebuilding" metaphor. And, of course, the hyperbole of eternity needn't mean that it's class leading nor a masterpiece.

Incidentally:
 

ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
34
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I revisited the review:
Context was:
"Architecture aims at eternity,” said Sir Christopher Wren, architect of surely the world’s most famous rebuild after the Great Fire of London ripped through St Paul’s Cathedral in 1666.

Comparing such magnificent constructions with consumer hi-fi may be a crude parallel, but in rebuilding its 80W-per-channel CX series amplifier, Cambridge Audio has also designed something with the aim of offering that eternal quality.
"

So your take was misleading to leave out it being but a "rebuilding" metaphor. And, of course, the hyperbole of eternity needn't mean that it's class leading nor a masterpiece.

Incidentally:
Please note I said due to the lyrical waxing 'you get the feeling' rather than stating that there was some bias involved. I would not question the integrity of What HiFi. I dont realy think the St Pauls reference was a good metaphore as he was rebuilding after the great fire not because the initial design was poor.
Regardless of your opinion of the literary prowess of the author and the quality of his references, upon listening to the product and comparing it to similar priced products my personal opinion is that the Cambridge audio product is compromised by its PSU which gives it a slightly compressed presentation and lacks the dynamics of the Musical Fidelity M3Si. Compare the current output of the Cambridge to the MF and there is a significant difference in its ability to drive and control the drive units in the majority of appropriately priced speakers especially those that have lower sensitivity such as the B&W 603.

The CXA81 has more features if you are looking for them with the inbuilt DAC and WiFi however unlike the 300 year old Cathedral the protocols employed by the CXA probably wont be leading edge or even current in 10 years time nevermind eternity and while the amplifier section may be still perfectly functional a large chunk of the product will be redundant alarmingly quickly so to me a wise investment is to seperate the two functions.

I believe we all agree choose your hifi with your ears not the words that you read, but be aware that when entering the digital world we are grabbing the nettle of annual obsolescence and a good amplifier today should still be a good amplifier in 10 or 15 years..
 
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Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
246
72
370
Very wordy. But you're merely evading with your proviso of you-get-the-feeling (that misleadingly sway others towards a-bias). Now you're claiming "I would not question the integrity of What HiFi."

I disregard what else you had to say.
Please note I said due to the lyrical waxing 'you get the feeling' rather than stating that there was some bias involved. I would not question the integrity of What HiFi. I dont realy think the St Pauls reference was a good metaphore as he was rebuilding after the great fire not because the initial design was poor.
Regardless of your opinion of the literary prowess of the author and the quality of his references, upon listening to the product and comparing it to similar priced products my personal opinion is that the Cambridge audio product is compromised by its PSU which gives it a slightly compressed presentation and lacks the dynamics of the Musical Fidelity M3Si. Compare the current output of the Cambridge to the MF and there is a significant difference in its ability to drive and control the drive units in the majority of appropriately priced speakers especially those that have lower sensitivity such as the B&W 603.

The CXA81 has more features if you are looking for them with the inbuilt DAC and WiFi however unlike the 300 year old Cathedral the protocols employed by the CXA probably wont be leading edge or even current in 10 years time nevermind eternity and while the amplifier section may be still perfectly functional a large chunk of the product will be redundant alarmingly quickly so to me a wise investment is to seperate the two functions.

I believe we all agree choose your hifi with your ears not the words that you read, but be aware that when entering the digital world we are grabbing the nettle of annual obsolescence and a good amplifier today should still be a good amplifier in 10 or 15 years..

Personally, what I've recommended most for my family and friends to-look-into is this (originally £799) other amp.
 
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ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
34
18
45
Very wordy. But you're merely evading with your proviso of you-get-the-feeling (that misleadingly sway others towards a-bias). Now you're claiming "I would not question the integrity of What HiFi."

I disregard what else you had to say.



Personally, what I've recommended most for my family and friends to-look-into is this (originally £799) amp.
you sound like a fanboy of Cambridge audio rather than impartial.... sorry I didn’t join this forum to engage in arguments. I won’t be engaging with you further
 

AgedMuso

Active member
Feb 21, 2021
5
3
25
Just to round out this thread... after a Covid-impacted attempt to audition the Sa30, the M3SI the Naim Atom, and the 6000n, I ended up buying the Naim. I also got very lucky and managed to get it at a price below the mid point of my price range. Thank you to all who contributed to this thread. I don't need to tell you that the Naim sounds great, but I will head over to the Naim forum to offer some thoughts on set-up. Suffice to say here that the chromecast implementation sucks when used with either Idagio or Primephonic - moot point as to why... underpowered processing in the Atom or shoddy coding from the streaming companies... probably a bit of both. Qobuz and Tidal, both available natively on the Atom, work really well.

An upgrade to my speakers will follow... starting point is KEF R3s, but perhaps the Atom would just about drive a pair or PMC Twenty5 21s...? Suggestions are of course welcome...

Many thanks again for your help.
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
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An upgrade to my speakers will follow... starting point is KEF R3s, but perhaps the Atom would just about drive a pair or PMC Twenty5 21s...? Suggestions are of course welcome...
The PMCs would be no problem to drive if you don’t consider them a bit bright and over-priced, as I do. But the R3 or the cheaper and better in some ways LS50 Meta should be heard. Neat are often paired with Naim, but are quite distinctive, so again do listen first.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
636
278
19,270
Just to round out this thread... after a Covid-impacted attempt to audition the Sa30, the M3SI the Naim Atom, and the 6000n, I ended up buying the Naim. I also got very lucky and managed to get it at a price below the mid point of my price range. Thank you to all who contributed to this thread. I don't need to tell you that the Naim sounds great, but I will head over to the Naim forum to offer some thoughts on set-up. Suffice to say here that the chromecast implementation sucks when used with either Idagio or Primephonic - moot point as to why... underpowered processing in the Atom or shoddy coding from the streaming companies... probably a bit of both. Qobuz and Tidal, both available natively on the Atom, work really well.

An upgrade to my speakers will follow... starting point is KEF R3s, but perhaps the Atom would just about drive a pair or PMC Twenty5 21s...? Suggestions are of course welcome...

Many thanks again for your help.
Put Revel Performa 3 M106 on your list, if you can provide them with enough room.
 

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