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Help me build my new system!

JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
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Hello everyone! Brand new to the forum and a budding HiFi enthusiast. Really need some advice in building out my new system. I’ve been pouring over reviews for weeks and am unable to demo anything under our current “lockdown”.

I’ll be transitioning my B&W 685 S2’s and Yamaha AV receiver to another area of the house, and keeping my SVS SB-1000 subwoofer in the living room to pair with an upgrade to floorstanders, an integrated stereo amp, streamer, and turntable.

Budget is ~4K. Listening room is 15x20 but completely open to dining/kitchen which is another 15x25. Essentially, the main living area is one long rectangle.

Here’s what I’m thinking......Cambridge Audio CXA-80 integrated amp, Bluesound Node 2i streamer, Fluance RT83 turntable, and Cambridge Solo phono preamp.

Pretty solid on those components based on research/budget. What I can’t decide on is the loudspeaker. I’m considering the following....

B&W 603
Monitor Audio Silver 200
Focal Chora 816
Dali Oberon 5

Again, strictly based on reviews and in the case of the 603’s, my 5 years living with the 685’s which I thoroughly enjoy. Obviously open to other suggestions.

Definitely want something just as adept during movie watching as music.

What’s your thoughts everyone? I would really appreciate your help! I feel frozen by indecision and really want to pull the trigger in the next few days.

Thank you very much!
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
701
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19,270
If you thoroughly enjoy the B&Ws, then I would stick with that brand. Add in that the new speakers will have to dance with the SVS. So stick with what YOU like.
 
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JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
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If you thoroughly enjoy the B&Ws, then I would stick with that brand. Add in that the new speakers will have to dance with the SVS. So stick with what YOU like.
Certainly makes sense, and was my initial thought as well. However, I’ve heard the 603 has a different sound than previous gens due to the new mid-range material.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
369
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19,070
Hi. As always, try to audition if it's a possibility. That being said, were it my money, I'd shift more of your budget to the source and, if turntable play will recieve at least moderate use, I'd look at a Rega P3 with Nagaoka MP110 cartridge into a Schiit Mani phono preamp.

Also, I demoed the Node 2i at home and it's DAC section is quite mediocre, so you WILL need an external dac for it (or an amp with a DAC) - look at Hegel H90.

However, just because I don't like high box count, I'd look at a Naim Atom instead (which replaces Node 2i, DAC and amp), and just add a pair of sensitive speakers. It might be adequate for B&W, but they are known to be power hungry because of impedance drops, so if you want disco levels, they might not be the right choice. If you have the space for them, Wharfedale Evo 4.4 might be just the thing, but the Monitor Audio Silver 200 or Dali Oberon 5 should be great partners too. From the Focal range, I would only pair Focal Aria with the Atom.

A great alternative to the Atom should be the Arcam SA30 (reviewed recently in whf). Haven't heard it, but if it's anything like the Arcam house sound, it should be amazing too - and a much better partner for B&W 603 or the Focal Chora range, or Revel Concerta 2 M16 if you want big sounding standmounts. The arcam also has MM and MC phono pre, so 1 less box for your setup. The app and streaming system is not as sleek as Naim's (and even that one has problems of it's own), but any of these two will sound better than CA (imo).

The all-in-one solution has another awesome advantage - no faffing with interconnects. The ones on the Rega are captive, so you just use those, and the Arcam has integrated phono preamp. Only speaker cable left to consider - for the Atom, I'd consider Chord Clearway or Audioquest Rocket 22 (or Tellurium Q Black 2 if you find a used pair for a good price, go for these without a question), for the Arcam look at Chord Rumour X or Audioquest Rocket 11.
 

JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
14
7
25
Hi. As always, try to audition if it's a possibility. That being said, were it my money, I'd shift more of your budget to the source and, if turntable play will recieve at least moderate use, I'd look at a Rega P3 with Nagaoka MP110 cartridge into a Schiit Mani phono preamp.

Also, I demoed the Node 2i at home and it's DAC section is quite mediocre, so you WILL need an external dac for it (or an amp with a DAC) - look at Hegel H90.

However, just because I don't like high box count, I'd look at a Naim Atom instead (which replaces Node 2i, DAC and amp), and just add a pair of sensitive speakers. It might be adequate for B&W, but they are known to be power hungry because of impedance drops, so if you want disco levels, they might not be the right choice. If you have the space for them, Wharfedale Evo 4.4 might be just the thing, but the Monitor Audio Silver 200 or Dali Oberon 5 should be great partners too. From the Focal range, I would only pair Focal Aria with the Atom.

A great alternative to the Atom should be the Arcam SA30 (reviewed recently in whf). Haven't heard it, but if it's anything like the Arcam house sound, it should be amazing too - and a much better partner for B&W 603 or the Focal Chora range, or Revel Concerta 2 M16 if you want big sounding standmounts. The arcam also has MM and MC phono pre, so 1 less box for your setup. The app and streaming system is not as sleek as Naim's (and even that one has problems of it's own), but any of these two will sound better than CA (imo).

The all-in-one solution has another awesome advantage - no faffing with interconnects. The ones on the Rega are captive, so you just use those, and the Arcam has integrated phono preamp. Only speaker cable left to consider - for the Atom, I'd consider Chord Clearway or Audioquest Rocket 22 (or Tellurium Q Black 2 if you find a used pair for a good price, go for these without a question), for the Arcam look at Chord Rumour X or Audioquest Rocket 11.
Sincerely appreciate all the thought you put into your response! Thank you very much!

Unfortunately, a lot of the gear you mentioned is well above my budget. The cost of the Atom or Arcam alone wouldn’t even allow me to upgrade to floorstanders. The Cambridge/Node 2i combo I’m considering totals ~1,200 which is pretty much what I can afford while still adding new speakers and a turntable. Plus, based on my research, that combo will be a substantial upgrade in sound quality over my previous setup. Regarding the Node 2i, I’ve read nothing but good reviews of the onboard DAC. Maybe this is just relative to it’s cost vs. gear that is many times more expensive? Either way, it allows me to play MQA files and will certainly still be an upgrade for me and my budget. All other audio sources will use the Cambridge DAC, which again for my budget, based on reviews, is solid. Now, if there’s an integrated amp that does all that for ~1,200, I’d be all ears. Haven’t found one besides one Denon that’s only 35w.

Regarding the Rega P3. Yeah, beautiful and I’ve read a lot about how great the entire Rega line is but again, WELL above my budget. For music listening I’m at probably 80% streaming and 20% vinyl. I’m new to Vinyl and my collection is small at this point. Spinning them on a cheap AT turntable so the Fluance will certainly be an upgrade with a well respected cartridge. My budget for the turntable is max 400.

All told, everything above leaves me with ~2,000 for speakers.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
369
138
19,070
Sincerely appreciate all the thought you put into your response! Thank you very much!

Unfortunately, a lot of the gear you mentioned is well above my budget. The cost of the Atom or Arcam alone wouldn’t even allow me to upgrade to floorstanders. The Cambridge/Node 2i combo I’m considering totals ~1,200 which is pretty much what I can afford while still adding new speakers and a turntable. Plus, based on my research, that combo will be a substantial upgrade in sound quality over my previous setup. Regarding the Node 2i, I’ve read nothing but good reviews of the onboard DAC. Maybe this is just relative to it’s cost vs. gear that is many times more expensive? Either way, it allows me to play MQA files and will certainly still be an upgrade for me and my budget. All other audio sources will use the Cambridge DAC, which again for my budget, based on reviews, is solid. Now, if there’s an integrated amp that does all that for ~1,200, I’d be all ears. Haven’t found one besides one Denon that’s only 35w.

Regarding the Rega P3. Yeah, beautiful and I’ve read a lot about how great the entire Rega line is but again, WELL above my budget. For music listening I’m at probably 80% streaming and 20% vinyl. I’m new to Vinyl and my collection is small at this point. Spinning them on a cheap AT turntable so the Fluance will certainly be an upgrade with a well respected cartridge. My budget for the turntable is max 400.

All told, everything above leaves me with ~2,000 for speakers.
I'm sorry, I assumed the 4k budget was in British pounds - but even so, I was suggesting budgeting less for speakers and more for source and electronics. Arcam is 2k, speakers I suggested are around the 1k mark, and the Rega is like 5-600.
 

Leon Martin

Well-known member
Mar 19, 2020
35
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I have the Oberon 5's along with a CXA81 amp. I stream music ( Qobuz Hi Res) via a CXN into the amp. Films are either from a CXUHD into the amp over coax or TV ( SKY, Netflix, Disney+,) TV outputs sound over Optical. Prior to this it was much the same sources except using an LG SJ9 soundbar with a sub. Musically I have no complaints. Film soundtracks no longer need a sub. I haven't heard any of the other speakers listed so all I can say is that I have no regrets buying the Oberons.
 
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millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
378
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"I'm sorry, I assumed the 4k budget was in British pounds - but even so, I was suggesting budgeting less for speakers and more for source and electronics. Arcam is 2k, speakers I suggested are around the 1k mark, and the Rega is like 5-600."


I agree with this your budget is lop sided, those 603's require lots of drive and current! I wouldn't hesitate putting a 2-3k amp on them there so capable. NO disrespect but this notion of expsenive speakers cheap amp is pretty strange to me, but many disagree. TBH with this 4k budget i'd put no more than 800 into the speakers or at least an equal split between all 4 items. Trust me this why people upgrade so quickly because the amp is out of its depth. Learn't the hard way over many years and systems.

Dont get too connected to MQA and i certainly wouldn't buy/build a system based around a format and one thats pretty questionable at best, and one that still really hasn't made the main stream. Concentrate on redbook thats still 95% of what actually out there.

i cant really recommend anything as im not too sure where you are in the world

but look at kef, wharfdale, monitor audio. Aren't fluance speakers supposed to be good?
 
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JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
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I'm sorry, I assumed the 4k budget was in British pounds - but even so, I was suggesting budgeting less for speakers and more for source and electronics. Arcam is 2k, speakers I suggested are around the 1k mark, and the Rega is like 5-600.
No worries at all! Thought didn’t cross my mind either that we may be talking different currency lol. Thanks again!
 

JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
14
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"I'm sorry, I assumed the 4k budget was in British pounds - but even so, I was suggesting budgeting less for speakers and more for source and electronics. Arcam is 2k, speakers I suggested are around the 1k mark, and the Rega is like 5-600."


I agree with this your budget is lop sided, those 603's require lots of drive and current! I wouldn't hesitate putting a 2-3k amp on them there so capable. NO disrespect but this notion of expsenive speakers cheap amp is pretty strange to me, but many disagree. TBH with this 4k budget i'd put no more than 800 into the speakers or at least an equal split between all 4 items. Trust me this why people upgrade so quickly because the amp is out of its depth. Learn't the hard way over many years and systems.

Dont get too connected to MQA and i certainly wouldn't buy/build a system based around a format and one thats pretty questionable at best, and one that still really hasn't made the main stream. Concentrate on redbook thats still 95% of what actually out there.

i cant really recommend anything as im not too sure where you are in the world

but look at kef, wharfdale, monitor audio. Aren't fluance speakers supposed to be good?
Hmm...ok. Hadn’t considered that my budget prioritization was out of whack. My thought was that while the Cambridge CXA80 wouldn’t get the “absolute best” out of the 603’s, it would still result in a better combo than a significantly cheaper speaker/higher priced amp.

What characteristics do you feel would be lacking with that combo?

Some less expensive speaker options I considered were the MA Silver 200 (~400 total less), and the PSB Alpha T20 (~700 total less). Even at the top end of those savings, I don’t see that amount pushing me into the higher end amp options, especially considering I want a streamer either built in or separate.

I’d love to continue hearing thoughts on my dilemma! It honestly really helps and what can I say, I enjoy it too!
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
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Hmm...ok. Hadn’t considered that my budget prioritization was out of whack. My thought was that while the Cambridge CXA80 wouldn’t get the “absolute best” out of the 603’s, it would still result in a better combo than a significantly cheaper speaker/higher priced amp.

What characteristics do you feel would be lacking with that combo?

Some less expensive speaker options I considered were the MA Silver 200 (~400 total less), and the PSB Alpha T20 (~700 total less). Even at the top end of those savings, I don’t see that amount pushing me into the higher end amp options, especially considering I want a streamer either built in or separate.

I’d love to continue hearing thoughts on my dilemma! It honestly really helps and what can I say, I enjoy it too!
It would be drive that your missing the pep. There not the most demanding speaker but they love power and quality power. With out drive you’ll be missing that sparkle the shiver down your spin it will sound dull imo any how.

As you want your system to do so much streaming, anolog play back and so on I’d look at the amp first that what you need to get right, weather that’s an all in one moon neo ace springs to mind (personally I don’t like all In ones) Or separate boxes.

I’d be looking at something with plenty of drive like a Hegel As mentioned above (they have a pretty decent dac on board to) so what’s that 1500-2k. Believe they come with a usb input and most people carry the best streamer around in there pockets, there phone ! if not, if you can get one a chromecast audio but I’m sure you have some sort of smart device laying around . So you could save some money there. Forget MQA though the moon mentioned decodes it I believe.

Next for me would be a turn table with a built in phone stage ( saving room and money there) and good pre installed cart. Doesn’t have to be just using it as an example but it’s what I’d aim for! A technics 1500c 900quid here in the U.K. 1200usd I believe it will last a life time and belts don’t need replacing as it’s direct drive. It will out live you and me that’s for sure (spend once!) and would keep it value when and if you sell it on.

Finally would be speakers and I’d put Wharfedale lintons (if there in budget where you are) on the list for an audition q acoustics and what ever other brands you have in mind for around the 1k just pick your poison something will go with it. Oh revel sound like b and w so if you can swing it give them a try

Remember drive is the most important thing in a system. If it hasn’t got the get up and go then you’ll be spending again

You should be pretty much bang on budget if not under and all equal splits roughly and I’m sure if your buying all at once deals could be had!

That would be what I’d be starting with as an audition.
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
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I agree with this your budget is lop sided, those 603's require lots of drive and current! I wouldn't hesitate putting a 2-3k amp on them there so capable. NO disrespect but this notion of expsenive speakers cheap amp is pretty strange to me, but many disagree.
Speakers introduce orders of magnitude more distortion to the sound than an amplifier. Frequency response and phase shifts, as well as harmonic distortion. An amplifier is very very benign in comparison.

So, using the best speakers possible makes sense.

JusDiG, the Cambridge CXA80 is a decent amp. I know this because I have one, and I've used it pretty much every day since I got it. It measures extremely well, and is happy to throw plenty of current around if you ask it to. Quite why people seem to think it doesn't sound great is beyond me. It's clean and delivers the goods - exactly what a good amplifier should do.

Chris
 

JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
14
7
25
It would be drive that your missing the pep. There not the most demanding speaker but they love power and quality power. With out drive you’ll be missing that sparkle the shiver down your spin it will sound dull imo any how.

As you want your system to do so much streaming, anolog play back and so on I’d look at the amp first that what you need to get right, weather that’s an all in one moon neo ace springs to mind (personally I don’t like all In ones) Or separate boxes.

I’d be looking at something with plenty of drive like a Hegel As mentioned above (they have a pretty decent dac on board to) so what’s that 1500-2k. Believe they come with a usb input and most people carry the best streamer around in there pockets, there phone ! if not, if you can get one a chromecast audio but I’m sure you have some sort of smart device laying around . So you could save some money there. Forget MQA though the moon mentioned decodes it I believe.

Next for me would be a turn table with a built in phone stage ( saving room and money there) and good pre installed cart. Doesn’t have to be just using it as an example but it’s what I’d aim for! A technics 1500c 900quid here in the U.K. 1200usd I believe it will last a life time and belts don’t need replacing as it’s direct drive. It will out live you and me that’s for sure (spend once!) and would keep it value when and if you sell it on.

Finally would be speakers and I’d put Wharfedale lintons (if there in budget where you are) on the list for an audition q acoustics and what ever other brands you have in mind for around the 1k just pick your poison something will go with it. Oh revel sound like b and w so if you can swing it give them a try

Remember drive is the most important thing in a system. If it hasn’t got the get up and go then you’ll be spending again

You should be pretty much bang on budget if not under and all equal splits roughly and I’m sure if your buying all at once deals could be had!

That would be what I’d be starting with as an audition.
No sarcasm whatsoever, but help me understand how the Moon and Hegel that I looked up at 50 & 60w (and more than twice the cost) provide more “pep” as you put it, to the 603’s? The Cambridge I’m considering is 80w. Is it “better quality” power?
 

JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
14
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If you're in the US, you should really check the Schiit Ragnarok or Rogue Audio for amplification.
Just looked the Schiit as well. I guess their 60w is better than Cambridge’s 80w? I’m positive I’m missing some other technical aspects that make you recommend it with less power and twice the cost.
 

JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
14
7
25
Speakers introduce orders of magnitude more distortion to the sound than an amplifier. Frequency response and phase shifts, as well as harmonic distortion. An amplifier is very very benign in comparison.

So, using the best speakers possible makes sense.

JusDiG, the Cambridge CXA80 is a decent amp. I know this because I have one, and I've used it pretty much every day since I got it. It measures extremely well, and is happy to throw plenty of current around if you ask it to. Quite why people seem to think it doesn't sound great is beyond me. It's clean and delivers the goods - exactly what a good amplifier should do.

Chris
Thanks for the reply! What speakers is your CXA80 powering if I may ask?
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
191
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270
The speakers are in my signature (just click the link). 8" 2-ways, metal cone and a 1" compression driver. 900Hz crossover point means the HF driver is handling the critical frequency range, and keeps sound off the walls etc. Unfortunately, getting a high-sensitivity HF driver and an 8" metal coned midbass working together requires a pretty complex crossover. The impedance stays above 5ohm, but I expect there are some weird phase angles going on. Can't remember where I put the measurements right now.

The drivers themselves are as follows:
- Seas H1252 - the big brother to the drivers used in the Amphion One monitor range.
- B&C DE250 - used in the Gedlee Abbey, among others.

They come out to mid-80s sensitivity when all the crossover work is done.

Chris
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
378
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11,070
No sarcasm whatsoever, but help me understand how the Moon and Hegel that I looked up at 50 & 60w (and more than twice the cost) provide more “pep” as you put it, to the 603’s? The Cambridge I’m considering is 80w. Is it “better quality” power?
Bigger power supplies! i dont look at watts at all, it means nothing really, as the numbers are often fudged
you want something that could drive 3ohm loads, i believe the B&Ws your looking at drop that low at some points and can stay there for quite a while. I would say there more a 4-6ohm speaker.

Im no reviewer and can only give you my informed experience that ive had over many years. I made a costly mistake with a naim uniti 2 and PMC 2023 speakers a few years ago, on paper it as the "watts" but it just couldn't wake the speakers up they where dull and lifeless no bass, highs where recessed it just couldn't drive them. They require amp with serious current/muscle probable some more than i could ever afford

If your happy with what you have researched then by all means go for it but i just wouldn't be partnering 4-5quid amp (basically all thats in a naim unit2 i mention above when split up into it separate pieces) with 1500quid speaker its A£ss about face. 800 quid max.

Funny enough what hifi has just released some set ups, vinyl systems, just add your streamer/dac of choice, look how they priced them up, nothing is vastly more expensive than another component part, even the mag is doing what im saying to do. And firmly fall with in your budget. They have a nice rega and B&W system listed use it as a base and go from there.

https://www.whathifi.com/features/3-great-music-systems-for-playing-vinyl
 

JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
14
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Wanted to update this thread for those that helped out or whoever else may be interested...

A local dealer agreed to let me audition the B&W 603’s and a Hegel H90 amp for 72 hours. Picking them up tomorrow! Excited to hear how the pairing sounds in my space. Will post an update after some spirited listening!
 
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Al ears

Moderator
Wanted to update this thread for those that helped out or whoever else may be interested...

A local dealer agreed to let me audition the B&W 603’s and a Hegel H90 amp for 72 hours. Picking them up tomorrow! Excited to hear how the pairing sounds in my space. Will post an update after some spirited listening!
Not on lockdown then.... :)
 
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JusDiG

Active member
Apr 15, 2020
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Hello everyone! Wanted to update this thread one last time for those who took the time to provide suggestions or whomever else may be interested.

So....here's what I ended up with.

Hegel H90 (Amazing deal from a dealer in Arizona, $1,400 US brand new)
Dynaudio Evoke 20 (Walnut) (Decided floor standers were just too big for my space)
Bluesound Node 2i
ProJect Debut Carbon
ProJect Phono Box S2
SVS SB-1000 (my second)
Interconnects and speaker wire are a combo of SVS, Audioquest, Austere.

Clearly, I went a bit over my original 4k budget. However, it wasn't by TOO much and the way I figure, these will be components I'll have for quite some time.

I've had everything up and running since Saturday and I'm very happy so far. I got to listen to the Dynaudio's at a small shop in Denver paired with an Atoll IN200 Signature and absolutely fell in love. I was prepared to spend the extra cash on the Atoll, however, when I found the Hegel deal it was too good to pass up.

My thoughts on the Dyn/Hegel combo --- SPECTACULAR! I wasn't concerned about the Hegel "only" being 60wpc. It's got plenty of current and damping factor to feed the moderately difficult (86db/6ohm) to drive Evoke's. I can play them plenty loud in my space and at normal listening levels the clarity and grip of the music is really phenomenal. What I love about the Evoke's is the level of detail it brings out in my music without being harsh/clinical at all. Rich, warm, whatever you want to say - they just sound so effortless and natural, but again, with loads of detail. I can hear nuance in vocals that I never have before. Bass is really quick and overall output truly impressive for a bookshelf, albeit a larger one. The soundstage of these compared to my B&W's is much bigger and it seems like the speakers just disappear when listening. In terms of blending the 2 SVS subs, this took a while. Positioning options are very limited for me so I spent a ton of time with different volume/phase/crossover combinations. Finally got them to the point where they augment the low frequencies nicely while not being obvious in terms of locating where the bass output is coming from.

My experience with the Bluesound thus far has been good. It definitely sounds better than streaming via Airplay, which is what I've done for years. I've tried using the onboard DAC via RCA and the DAC on the Hegel with a optical cable. Honestly, I can't really say that I tell a difference. Maybe I'm just not "audiophile" enough lol. Whatever the case, it is a definite step up in my streaming experience. The Bluesound app is pretty good, however there's two quirks that I don't like. Occasionally it will play a track that's not on my TIDAL playlist but from an artist who is. Weird. Also, you can't control the app from a locked screen on your phone, at least on mine.

Lastly, the Project Debut Carbon. Like I said in my original post, I am very new to vinyl. My only previous turntable was a cheap AudioTechnica using the built in phono stage. The Debut Carbon/S2 phono box combo is a serious step up in terms of overall looks, build/audio quality. I got the gloss white version and it's a really beautiful piece. Every record I've spun so far plays louder, clearer, fuller and with significant more detail. My experience is limited so that's really all I've got on the Project. Bottom line, my records sound really nice to my ears.

Hopefully anyone considering any of these components finds my very amateur review helpful!

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread! Really appreciate the time you took. Have a great day everyone!
 

Al ears

Moderator
Hello everyone! Wanted to update this thread one last time for those who took the time to provide suggestions or whomever else may be interested.

So....here's what I ended up with.

Hegel H90 (Amazing deal from a dealer in Arizona, $1,400 US brand new)
Dynaudio Evoke 20 (Walnut) (Decided floor standers were just too big for my space)
Bluesound Node 2i
ProJect Debut Carbon
ProJect Phono Box S2
SVS SB-1000 (my second)
Interconnects and speaker wire are a combo of SVS, Audioquest, Austere.

Clearly, I went a bit over my original 4k budget. However, it wasn't by TOO much and the way I figure, these will be components I'll have for quite some time.

I've had everything up and running since Saturday and I'm very happy so far. I got to listen to the Dynaudio's at a small shop in Denver paired with an Atoll IN200 Signature and absolutely fell in love. I was prepared to spend the extra cash on the Atoll, however, when I found the Hegel deal it was too good to pass up.

My thoughts on the Dyn/Hegel combo --- SPECTACULAR! I wasn't concerned about the Hegel "only" being 60wpc. It's got plenty of current and damping factor to feed the moderately difficult (86db/6ohm) to drive Evoke's. I can play them plenty loud in my space and at normal listening levels the clarity and grip of the music is really phenomenal. What I love about the Evoke's is the level of detail it brings out in my music without being harsh/clinical at all. Rich, warm, whatever you want to say - they just sound so effortless and natural, but again, with loads of detail. I can hear nuance in vocals that I never have before. Bass is really quick and overall output truly impressive for a bookshelf, albeit a larger one. The soundstage of these compared to my B&W's is much bigger and it seems like the speakers just disappear when listening. In terms of blending the 2 SVS subs, this took a while. Positioning options are very limited for me so I spent a ton of time with different volume/phase/crossover combinations. Finally got them to the point where they augment the low frequencies nicely while not being obvious in terms of locating where the bass output is coming from.

My experience with the Bluesound thus far has been good. It definitely sounds better than streaming via Airplay, which is what I've done for years. I've tried using the onboard DAC via RCA and the DAC on the Hegel with a optical cable. Honestly, I can't really say that I tell a difference. Maybe I'm just not "audiophile" enough lol. Whatever the case, it is a definite step up in my streaming experience. The Bluesound app is pretty good, however there's two quirks that I don't like. Occasionally it will play a track that's not on my TIDAL playlist but from an artist who is. Weird. Also, you can't control the app from a locked screen on your phone, at least on mine.

Lastly, the Project Debut Carbon. Like I said in my original post, I am very new to vinyl. My only previous turntable was a cheap AudioTechnica using the built in phono stage. The Debut Carbon/S2 phono box combo is a serious step up in terms of overall looks, build/audio quality. I got the gloss white version and it's a really beautiful piece. Every record I've spun so far plays louder, clearer, fuller and with significant more detail. My experience is limited so that's really all I've got on the Project. Bottom line, my records sound really nice to my ears.

Hopefully anyone considering any of these components finds my very amateur review helpful!

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread! Really appreciate the time you took. Have a great day everyone!
Very glad to hear you managed to get together a setup that you like and should last you years.
 

myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
42
27
70
An excellent choice of TT (although I am a bit of a Project fanboy...). You've got an easy and inexpensive upgrade path there too if the TT is fitted with an Ortofon 2M Red - when the time comes to change your stylus fit a 2M Blue.
 

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