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My Upcoming Upgrade Shootouts

Hawkwind16

Well-known member
May 22, 2016
54
13
4,545
I've been having a lot of fun over the last 18 months buying secondhand and discounted new hi fi components and trying them on a mix and match in my system in pursuit of upgrades (systems are as below). In fact, I've gone a bit over the top and have a bit of a backlog of tests / shootouts / bakeoffs, as set out below. The idea is to sell on surplus stuff at low/no loss but I seem to have become a collector of mid range components !

I'm searching for a rich meaty sound with excellent midrange, good detail, without aggressive treble / floor shaking bass. Small/medium size room, low/ mid volumes

Any comments / advice welcome !

----------------------------------------------------------

1. Cd Player Shootout - Marantz cd 52ii v Roksan Caspian M2

2. Interconnects shootout (Caspian m2 cd)- Chord Chorus 2 XLR v Russ Andrews Crystal Cu v Ecosse Premier+ Nu Diva

3. Speaker cable shootout - QED Silver spiral v QED XT400

4. Amp shootout - Roksan Oxygene Amp v Roksan Caspian M2 Amp (looking forward to that one)

5. Speaker Upgrade - Focal Aria 905 to 906

6. Get a decent phono stage and get my turntable out of storage (Project RPM5 Carbon, Ortofon 2m black)

7. Streaming - Chromecast Audio or USB cable to Marantz SA 8005 DAC v Apt X bluetooth to Roksan Oxygene

Previous / recent shootouts -

1. Speaker shootout - MA Gold GX50 v MA Silver 1 v Focal Aria 905 - FA 905 wins !

2. CD Player shootout - Marantz SA 8005 v Roksan Caspian M2 - Roksan wins !

Future Upgrades

1.More serious speakers - probably Harbeth or Spendor

2. New DAC - Chord Qutest probably, or possibly Cambridge Audio 851n
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
639
395
19,270
I’d agree with Cno’s thoughts here. Although I’ve used the Roksan Caspian CD player and found it very good, I’d be surprised if their amp with any Focal would be other than pretty forward and bright - pretty much the opposite of what you say you’re seeking.

Obviously your room and musical tastes will have a bearing too.

I’d leave any DAC tweaks until you’ve got the basic balance right, however.

I admire your dedication to the cause!
 

Hawkwind16

Well-known member
May 22, 2016
54
13
4,545
nopiano said:
I’d agree with Cno’s thoughts here. Although I’ve used the Roksan Caspian CD player and found it very good, I’d be surprised if their amp with any Focal would be other than pretty forward and bright - pretty much the opposite of what you say you’re seeking.

Obviously your room and musical tastes will have a bearing too.

I’d leave any DAC tweaks until you’ve got the basic balance right, however.

I admire your dedication to the cause!
Thanks - are you thinking of the old Focal range ? The Focal Aria's have soft treble in my view. No treble brightess or sibilance from the Caspians (unlike my previous Kandy K2's)
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
639
395
19,270
Hawkwind16 said:
nopiano said:
I’d agree with Cno’s thoughts here. Although I’ve used the Roksan Caspian CD player and found it very good, I’d be surprised if their amp with any Focal would be other than pretty forward and bright - pretty much the opposite of what you say you’re seeking.

Obviously your room and musical tastes will have a bearing too.

I’d leave any DAC tweaks until you’ve got the basic balance right, however.

I admire your dedication to the cause!
Thanks - are you thinking of the old Focal range ? The Focal Aria's have soft treble in my view. No treble brightess or sibilance from the Caspians (unlike my previous Kandy K2's)
Possibly, as I can’t claim I understand all their ranges. But I’ve always liked the idea of a Focal, and yet never heard one that appeals, even the mega expensive Dalek like ones, Utopia I think. Ignore me - I’ll go away!

Seriosly, though, some of those brands mentioned above need to be on your audition list.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
For a rich meaty sound, I'd be looking at:

Croft / Pathos / Arcam / Unison Research / Electrocompaniet / Musical Fidelity / Audio Analogue / Sugden

Harbeth / Spendor Classic / Opera / Kef R Series / Sonus Faber

I'd avoid silver coated copper
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
617
268
19,270
nopiano said:
Hawkwind16 said:
nopiano said:
I’d agree with Cno’s thoughts here.  Although I’ve used the Roksan Caspian CD player and found it very good, I’d be surprised if their amp with any Focal would be other than pretty forward and bright - pretty much the opposite of what you say you’re seeking.  

Obviously your room and musical tastes will have a bearing too.  

I’d leave any DAC tweaks until you’ve got the basic balance right, however.

 I admire your dedication to the cause!
Thanks - are you thinking of the old Focal range ? The Focal Aria's have soft treble in my view. No treble brightess or sibilance from the Caspians (unlike my previous Kandy K2's)
Possibly, as I can’t claim I understand all their ranges.  But I’ve always liked the idea of a Focal, and yet never heard one that appeals, even the mega expensive Dalek like ones, Utopia I think.  Ignore me - I’ll go away!  

Seriosly, though, some of those brands mentioned above need to be on your audition list. 
Aria are indeed different from their other ranges. The others need careful system matching - for instance, Electra sounded awesome with Jadis Orchestra (tubes) but horribly tiresome with Naim Uniti 2.

@op - Spendor are a very good contender, and you should also add Martin Logan Motion and Wharfedale Jade 3 to your list (the Jades are big, though, and require some space and power)
 

Hawkwind16

Well-known member
May 22, 2016
54
13
4,545
CnoEvil said:
For a rich meaty sound, I'd be looking at:

Croft / Pathos / Arcam / Unison Research / Electrocompaniet / Musical Fidelity / Audio Analogue / Sugden

Harbeth / Spendor Classic / Opera / Kef R Series / Sonus Faber

I'd avoid silver coated copper
Thanks - what speaker cables might you recommend ?
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
51
5
18,545
rainsoothe said:
nopiano said:
Hawkwind16 said:
nopiano said:
I’d agree with Cno’s thoughts here. Although I’ve used the Roksan Caspian CD player and found it very good, I’d be surprised if their amp with any Focal would be other than pretty forward and bright - pretty much the opposite of what you say you’re seeking.

Obviously your room and musical tastes will have a bearing too.

I’d leave any DAC tweaks until you’ve got the basic balance right, however.

I admire your dedication to the cause!
Thanks - are you thinking of the old Focal range ? The Focal Aria's have soft treble in my view. No treble brightess or sibilance from the Caspians (unlike my previous Kandy K2's)
Possibly, as I can’t claim I understand all their ranges. But I’ve always liked the idea of a Focal, and yet never heard one that appeals, even the mega expensive Dalek like ones, Utopia I think. Ignore me - I’ll go away!

Seriosly, though, some of those brands mentioned above need to be on your audition list.
Aria are indeed different from their other ranges. The others need careful system matching - for instance, Electra sounded awesome with Jadis Orchestra (tubes) but horribly tiresome with Naim Uniti 2.

@op - Spendor are a very good contender, and you should also add Martin Logan Motion and Wharfedale Jade 3 to your list (the Jades are big, though, and require some space and power)
My Electras sound great with either Tubes or Devialet.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
617
268
19,270
Infiniteloop said:
rainsoothe said:
nopiano said:
Hawkwind16 said:
nopiano said:
I’d agree with Cno’s thoughts here.  Although I’ve used the Roksan Caspian CD player and found it very good, I’d be surprised if their amp with any Focal would be other than pretty forward and bright - pretty much the opposite of what you say you’re seeking.  

Obviously your room and musical tastes will have a bearing too.  

I’d leave any DAC tweaks until you’ve got the basic balance right, however.

 I admire your dedication to the cause!
Thanks - are you thinking of the old Focal range ? The Focal Aria's have soft treble in my view. No treble brightess or sibilance from the Caspians (unlike my previous Kandy K2's)
Possibly, as I can’t claim I understand all their ranges.  But I’ve always liked the idea of a Focal, and yet never heard one that appeals, even the mega expensive Dalek like ones, Utopia I think.  Ignore me - I’ll go away!  

Seriosly, though, some of those brands mentioned above need to be on your audition list. 
Aria are indeed different from their other ranges. The others need careful system matching - for instance, Electra sounded awesome with Jadis Orchestra (tubes) but horribly tiresome with Naim Uniti 2.

@op - Spendor are a very good contender, and you should also add Martin Logan Motion and Wharfedale Jade 3 to your list (the Jades are big, though, and require some space and power)
My Electras sound great with either Tubes or Devialet.
Might've been the Naca5.
@op - Tellurium Q Black 2. Not recommending them because I got them, but because I was looking for the same kind of sound you're looking for. Give them a try.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
On the cheaper front - Linn K20 (eBay); Van Damme UP LC-OFC; QED 79 strand.

On the dearer front- TQ; Atlas; Cardas; Van den Hul.
 

iceman16

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2011
99
21
18,545
Hawkwind16 said:
CnoEvil said:
For a rich meaty sound, I'd be looking at:

Croft / Pathos / Arcam / Unison Research / Electrocompaniet / Musical Fidelity / Audio Analogue / Sugden

Harbeth / Spendor Classic / Opera / Kef R Series / Sonus Faber

I'd avoid silver coated copper
Thanks - what speaker cables might you recommend ?
I suggest try some cables from MIT.
 

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