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I actually listened to new HiFi!!

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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Most know that my hifi is very much old school and I don't get to hear a lot of new equipment. But Major Fubar Senior (my elder brother) was on the lookout for a new amp following the death of his much treastured Marantz PM-45, so after work today (technically, yesterday) we went to Richer Sounds to see what £300 could buy in terms of new amps.

First of all I have to say, what a well-run chain of stores. Nice sales people who are there to assist when you want them but who aren't pushy. Hooked up to a pair of Q3020s which I was very impressed with for the size and price, we listened to the Marantz PM6005, Cambridge Audio Azur 651A and a Yamaha AS301 (cheaper than the other two, but they didn't have a '501 in stock), using a Marantz CD6005 as a source.

Unexpectedly, based on my preconceptions when I saw it, I was least impressed with the Yamaha. Ok it was the cheapest, but for a well-built unit which clearly looked to be the trio's tattooed muscleman who pumps 25 kilos with one arm while reading a copy of Muscle & Fitness in the other, it sounded the weediest and IMO least impressive, despite its claimed 60WRMS per side. Music sounded a bit restrained like it couldn't let go. You could mess with the tone controls to try to make it more punchier, but that just muddied the bass.

The CA surprised me. It sounded punchier than the Yamaha and IMO had an altogether more engaging presentation. Only when I came home did I do my research and found this was a £450 amp reduced to £249 at Richers, so I shouldn't have been at all surprised its sound was in the next league above. It was seriously looking like a go-er 'til we realised it didn't have a phono input.

So finally we listened to the Marantz PM6005. They do say this is almost an obligatory audition if you have less than £500 to spend. I can see why it's very popular. Nice approachable sound that does nothing wrong, unmistakably Marantz, but IMO it didn't quite have the authority and drive of the CA, which fair enough is a 75WRMS amp compared to the Marantz's 45W. That said, it's a £300 amp being sold at exactly that, not £450 amp with £200 off. The minute we established it sounded better than the Yamaha it had effectively won the competition on the grounds it has a MM input, and so that's what he came out with.

I'd give a home to either the Marantz or the CA, were I in the need of an amp and with that budget to spend. Only the Yamaha left me disappointed. Built like Goliath (comparatively) but IMO sounded the least muscular. Clearly there's 60W and there's 60W: my ancient Cyrus 2 is rated only at 50W or thereabouts without the PSX but it would comfortably blow this Yamaha through the wall into the next store. I'm sure the '501 is an altogether different proposition and it could have been a tough call beween that and the Marantz if they had it in stock. But as it stands he's happy with his purchase.
 

mightyquin

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Jan 7, 2014
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Another option would have been to take the CA and buy a phono stage. I've been using a Project phono stage with my CA A500 and it gave a great sound - I've yet to hook it up to the Cyrus 1 to see how it compares with the built in stage though.

CA are owned by Richer Sounds so I guess they can discount it more heavily.

But as long as he's happy with the new amp that's the main thing.
 

ifor

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2002
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Closely associated with Richer Sounds due to the exclusive distribution of many of its most well known products in the UK through the chain, Audio Partnership has produced many products over the years. However, Richer Sounds does not own Audio Partnership (although Julian Richer, the owner of Richer Sounds, co-founded and owns 51% of Audio Partnership), and other distributors are responsible for the distribution of Audio Partnership products outside the UK.
 

mightyquin

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Jan 7, 2014
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Richer Sounds own Cambridge Audio Ltd, although the CA product is part of Audio Partnership.

All three companies share the same office address and as you say, Julian Richer owns the majority shares in AP.
 

ifor

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Dec 3, 2002
71
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So, if Julian Richer owns 100% of Richer Sounds and 51% of Audio Partnership and Cambridge Audio is a brand of Audio Partnership, how do you work it out that Richer Sounds owns Cambridge Audio? I may be nitpicking, but it doesn't appear to add up.
 

unhalfbricking

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Jan 18, 2013
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Interesting write up! Always fascinating to hear people's opinions when they have just come back from a demo session....particularly the non-esoteric, budget stuff. Thanks for sharing, Major.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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@major fubar - those are exactly my thoughts on yamaha amps. And it is a bit surprising, since their active monitors sound completely the opposite of their amps: they got plenty of drive and authority. Now there's Naim 5si 60w and there's Yamaha 60w. But wait, all amps sound the same, amirite? ;)
 

the_master66

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Oct 16, 2015
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rainsoothe said:
@major fubar - Now there's Naim 5si 60w and there's Yamaha 60w. But wait, all amps sound the same, amirite? ;)
Yes my NAC 122x NAP 150x combo sounds exactly the same as my old Audiolab 8000q/8000p................not

Incidently whilst my Audiolab was broken I briefly used a Yamaha DSP-A5 as a stereo amp .......technically more powerful than my nap 150x - polite and even handed but had nowhere near the grip, drive or musicality......

I wish I couldn't hear a difference it would be a lot cheaper !!

The Master66
 
K

keeper of the quays

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How did this compare with your system? Night and day? or subtlety of differences?
 

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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keeper of the quays said:
How did this compare with your system? Night and day? or subtlety of differences?
no idea mate to be honest, different speakers and different source, and in a different location. My unproven thoughts are that my system seems to be more dynamic and have much more oomph left in reserve compared to any of the amps I heard yesterday. But that's very clearly unproven conjecture.
 

Thompsonuxb

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Feb 19, 2012
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MajorFubar said:
keeper of the quays said:
How did this compare with your system? Night and day? or subtlety of differences?
no idea mate to be honest, different speakers and different source, and in a different location. My unproven thoughts are that my system seems to be more dynamic and have much more oomph left in reserve compared to any of the amps I heard  yesterday. But that's very clearly unproven conjecture. 
Can't help feel your brother should have held out to at least listen to the as501, then decide.

But he has a months grace?
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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the_master66 said:
rainsoothe said:
@major fubar - Now there's Naim 5si 60w and there's Yamaha 60w. But wait, all amps sound the same, amirite? ;)
Yes my NAC 122x NAP 150x combo sounds exactly the same as my old Audiolab 8000q/8000p................not

Incidently whilst my Audiolab was broken I briefly used a Yamaha DSP-A5 as a stereo amp .......technically more powerful than my nap 150x - polite and even handed but had nowhere near the grip, drive or musicality......

I wish I couldn't hear a difference it would be a lot cheaper !!

The Master66
Amen to that!
 

ID.

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Feb 22, 2010
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MajorFubar said:
rainsoothe said:
Now there's Naim 5si 60w and there's Yamaha 60w. But wait, all amps sound the same, amirite? ;)
:-D
everyone knows Naim watts are different. But there has been plenty of discussion on what Naim does to achieve a different sound and the "all amps sound the same" argument I believe has a proviso regarding makers who do things out of the ordinary to create a house sound. besides, I missed the part where a Naim was tested. There's plenty of reasons why amps DO sound different, some of which is to do with volume, some to do with the speaker/amp interaction, and some to do with intentional voicing/distortion/character, etc., etc.

And I don't even think all amps sound the same :p
 

Al ears

Moderator
Naim what's are different?

I'd beg to disagree sir. A watt is a watt or its not. Perhaps you mean the way Naim measure their equipment and quote output figures is somewatt different to others. ;-)
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
369
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Al ears said:
Naim what's are different?

I'd beg to disagree sir. A watt is a watt or its not. Perhaps you mean the way Naim measure their equipment and quote output figures is somewatt different to others. ;-)
I don't think people mean "watts" per se, it probably has to do with circuitry or current reserves or whatever. But in now way will a Yamaha RN500 sound the same as a Nait 5si, whatever level matching is involved.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
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Naim has a device (inductor?) after the output stages, so it has a poor damping factor. Easy to measure. Means they sound more variable with different speakers, and may be unsuitable for certain speaker cables.

There are other tweaks which I'm less able to explain, but it is deliberate, to give music more bounce!
 

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