First Hi-Fi setup (B&W 683 vs 685)

sidsaha

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Oct 28, 2015
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Hi, i am looking to buy my first hi-fi stereo system for music listening. My room size is 20 ft x 13 ft and the speakers will be placed along the short wall.
I listen to a variety of stuff ...blues, classic rock, folk grass, indian fusion, selective bollywood stuff (to name a few of my favorite bands - Dire straits, Beatles, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, Shakti, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, A.R. Rahman, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy etc.) and I'm trying to experiment with Jazz.
My source will be mainly digital (FLAC, ALAC) files, played from either a laptop or preferably streamed via wi-fi or bluetooth - so i will need to buy a DAC unless the amp has an in-built one. Budget can go upto ~$4000 for everything i need - speakers, amp, DAC, cables, bluetooth dongle etc, but if I can get the same sound (for apartment level listening volumes) at a lower cost, then obviously would prefer to not spend so much.

I've auditioned a few speakers (I live in India, so don't have too many choices)...Dali, Elac, Tannoy, B&W and have shortlisted the B&W 683 and Tannoy XT6F. Now between the two i felt the B&W sounded better, but my questions are as follows -

1. Is B&W overkill for my room size and listening needs? Or should i look at B&W 685 instead (maybe with a sub if needed, though i don't plan to listing to club music where very strong bass is needed)?

2. I'm thinking of going for either a Rotel RA-12 or RA-1570 (since i understand that they pair well with B&Ws). Any suggestions here? I know the RA-12 is 60 wpc vs RA-1570 is 120 wpc - but my question is for apartment level listening levels, do i need a RA-1570? Will there be a difference in sound quality at lower volumes? Should I look at a RA-12 with a seperate sub, especially if I go for the 685?
 

Cynic-al

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Jan 11, 2013
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Welcome sidsaha.

The B&W 683's are bass monsters, and very hard to accommodate in a smallish room.

Being placed along a 13ft wall and firing down the length of the room will result in bass boom you will not be able to control.

If you like the B&W sound as I do, may I suggest the B&W CM1. They are better speaker than the 6 series.

Look at something like the new Denon DRA-100, this will do every thing you ask and sound superb.

http://www.denon.co.uk/uk/product/hificomponents/amplifiers/dra100
 
Feb 18, 2015
59
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Before recommending any sort of speaker.How far away is your listening position going to be down the 20ft of space you have.It can make the world of difference to how much of the sonic impact a speaker can make depending on how distant you are from it.If you're going to be right at the back of that space,standmounts aren't going to make much of an impression.
 

sidsaha

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Oct 28, 2015
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Mark Rose-Smith said:
Before recommending any sort of speaker.How far away is your listening position going to be down the 20ft of space you have.It can make the world of difference to how much of the sonic impact a speaker can make depending on how distant you are from it.If you're going to be right at the back of that space,standmounts aren't going to make much of an impression.

Listening positions will be anywhere between 10-15 feet from the speakers assuming the speakers are placed about 1.5 ft from the wall.

If 683 will not sound good, any alternate recommendations? Will check out CM1 though I don't know what's their price and whether it will be within budget.
 

philpot1001

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May 28, 2015
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Im not sure about the comments on the room being small.....its basically a 6m * 4m room, that seems like it should be big enough to accomodate floorstanders to me, no problems. I run some very bass heavy floorstanders myself in a room not much bigger, and mine are fine! placing them along the 4m wall would allow a 2.5m seaparation between speakers and 0.75m away from the side walls for each speaker....seems fine to me.
 

GCE

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Jan 31, 2011
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I run B&W 603 S2 ( a sort of 684/683 ) with Marantz 6004 in a room of 6 x 6 m ( 18 x 18 ft )

and vol under 10 o'clock with CD or Vinyl
 

sidsaha

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Oct 28, 2015
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Great...so I understand that the speakers aren't a problem. Actually where I will need to place them ( no choice here) there won't be much side walls as there is a passage cutting across ( approx. 4 ft gap in the long wall). So hopefully that will also help ease any excessive bass sound.

So if the speakers are ok, would I need a RA-1570 or will the RA-12 suffice? Any other amps recommended based on my listed needs?
 
Feb 18, 2015
59
1
18,545
Floor standers should work fine,although you mention you live in an apartment?if you have neighbours close by,they might not be so fond of your new system.I once had to return a pair of monitor audio silver rx6's as the bass resonance just went right through the building,and I'm not talking party levels of volume,just mentioning to be aware of what you wish for.the best course of action would be to try and home dem some gear if possible.Also if you mainly stream music and use files maybe a Naim uniti,unitilite or the unitiqute 2 could be an option,they are a great one box solution and offer fantastic sound quality with a well laid out upgrade path if you ever feel the need to further improve your system.
 

philpot1001

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May 28, 2015
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ahhh not realised it was in an apartment, yeah your neighbours may flip their lid....mind you i doubt its much worse with a pair of floorstanders v's standmounts.
 

Cynic-al

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Jan 11, 2013
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RA-1570 would be overkill in my opinion the RA-12 would give the same sound but ultimately won't play loudly with the same comfort. I have auditioned both of these amps but found them both too bright. Is your room heavily furnished with rugs/carpet or do you have tiled floors concrete walls etc? Lots of UK houses have floor boards with carpet and stud/plaster boarded walls and need a bright sounding system to flesh out the details. The Rotels give a bright sound and would become wearing in a live sounding room ie. Tiled floor and painted concrete walls. An Arcam A19/A29 would be a better match if your room is as described. Please audition the CM series before you decide. I listen to similar music to yourself and find the CM series sound great for blues/rock.
 

sidsaha

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Oct 28, 2015
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Yes, I have concrete walls and tiled floors. The room is relatively sparsely furnished....just a sofa set and some centre & side tables...and a small rug. Unfortunately here in India I won't have a home demo option....so will have to rely on whatever I hear at the store. Will try to see if I can audition the Arcam & Denon.

And will hear the CM1 though I suspect it will be significantly more expensive. Also the CM1s being bookshelves, Will it be adequate for the room? Not to mention that I don't have book shelves to place them on! :)
 

Reijer

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Apr 22, 2014
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Hi Sidsaha.

Welcome!

For me B&W-Rotel wasn't the best combo. I'm using a TEAC amp with build-in DAC. NAD is also an option. What is available for you?
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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My recommendation would be for Yamaha amplification. If streaming is the most important source to you, and you wish to be able to listen to higher resolution files, the new R-N601 network receiver would be worth investigating. If you don't need all those features and you are quite happy streaming via Bluetooth, an A-S501 or A-S701 amp with the YBA-11 bluetooth receiver will do the trick. Any of these will give you plenty of power, flexibility, and a natural sound which doesn't falsely exaggerate any one part of the frequency range. Much better built than a lot of stuff too.

Any of those amps would grip B&Ws nicely (which they need), but Yamaha also works extremely well with Dynaudio speakers and a pair of DM2/6 or DM2/7 on good stands should be just the ticket. With all those hard surfaces the superb Dynaudio tweeter will give you plenty of insight without ever veering into hardness or being uncomfortable to listen to.
 

sidsaha

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Oct 28, 2015
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Reijer said:
Hi Sidsaha.

Welcome!

For me B&W-Rotel wasn't the best combo. I'm using a TEAC amp with build-in DAC. NAD is also an option. What is available for you?

I can get NAD, Arcam, Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, Hegel, Creek, Marantz, Cambridge Audio - as of now these are the ones I'm aware of - there could be others. But I won't get them at the same store and within these also only certain specific models will be available. If you have any specific suggestions, I can check for those.
 

Reijer

Well-known member
Apr 22, 2014
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NAD D3020 or 7050

NAD C326BEE or C356BEE with separate DAC D1050

Or go nuts with the C390DD.

TEAC AI 501DA.

TEAC AX 501 with separate DAC UD 501.

Happy listening!
 

sidsaha

New member
Oct 28, 2015
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Thanks for the suggestions. In the course of searching for NAD amps, a dealer suggested that I audition the PSB Imagine X2T, Focal Chorus 726V and Focal Aria 926 and Revel Performa 3 F206.

I was thinking of checking out the Focal 926 since the salesman who had helped with the B&W 683 demo had said that the Focal 926 is probably a better (more balanced) speaker but they didn't have it in stock.

So does anyone have any opinion of the Focal Aria 926 vs the B&W 683?
 

friendly_ghost

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May 8, 2014
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I only auditioned the standmount models of these (Aria 906 vs B&W 685) and found the B&W a little dull and uninvolving compared to the Focal. Definitely worth auditioning before making a decision!
 

emperor's new clothes

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May 28, 2013
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Hi Sidsaha,

I recently heard the Focals and agree with your dealer, more cohesive and better timing than the 683s. Better still to my ears, the new Dali Opticon 6, which I bought and are now running in. Well worth a listen if available in India. Supplied with spikes or rubber feet which would suit your flooring. The hybrid tweeter is a delight and the advantage of a ribbon top end is a wide soundstage but little vertical dispersion which might help mitigate reflections in your room. Paired with Marantz SA/PM8005 represents fantastic performance at this price point - I've owned much more expensive kit in the past. I used to visit a mate in Singapore who has a similar flat with marble floors. Isolation of his Tannoys plus some strategically placed rugs helped tame an over zealous top end plagued with reflections in a sparsely furnished room. I use Atacama isolating gel pads on granite slabs to tame the problems of a suspended floor.
 

sidsaha

New member
Oct 28, 2015
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Thanks guys. I took the 683s. But am yet to buy the amp and am trying to decide between RA-12, RA-1570 and Hegel H80. I heard a few of them at home with my speakers and I kind of liked the 1570 and H80 amongst them. I like the RA-12 also (especially since it is half the price of the RA-1570!) except that I felt that the 1570 had a tighter grip on the bass (but not sure if its worth paying some much extra for it). Would you guys have any advice amongst these amps? Please don't suggest auditioning any other amps as I would like to choose between these and move on.
 

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