Question new amp and speakers for a Sonos: Connect

Big Aura

Well-known member
Oct 13, 2008
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Hello
Nice to see some new faces and some old faces too! I’m in need of some direction, and would welcome some advice.
Problem – I’m tired of my Sonos S5. It’s in the kitchen, and it’s the thing that gets listened to most, but it’s also the weakest link so I’d like to replace it.
What I need is a stereo amp and bookshelf speakers (not “stand mounters” as they will actually be on a bookshelf – it’s not possible to place them anywhere else) – it’s got to be:
  1. Sonos compatible (so I will use a Sonos:Connect as the sole source and retaining the “easy to use/integrated with the rest of the house” factor is a must).
  2. Stereo Speakers that are SMALL, nice to look at and somewhat unfussy about placement. (I have considered the Q Acoustics Concept 20 and the KEF LS50). I don’t want wooden boxes so something gloss black or white with modern appearance).
The room itself is a long thin kitchen (South London Victorian terrace) with kitchen section leading on-to dining area. The back end of the kitchen has a chimney breast with alcoves either side, and the alcove (which is approx 1.2m wide and 0.5m deep) has fixed shelves where the speakers must go. Stands are impossible given small kids, footballs, scooters, bikes and potentially a dog.
So my questions are!
  1. Front runners are KEF LS50 now. I appreciate they will sound better in a different location, but again – that’s not negotiable – so should I consider auditioning anything else (modern and smaller than 30cm tall). The LS50s are top end of my budget here, so £800ish.
  2. Amp – need something which is on the slightly warm (but close to neutral) side given the transparency of the KEF. It needs a toslink input (for the Sonos), it needs a top quality DAC. It doesn’t need anything else – this is a single source amp, so all the bells and whistles are somewhat of an irrelevance (don’t mind them, but I’d sooner spend £1 less than have Apt X or whatever). I would like an amp that is somewhat nice to look at – for some reason I really don’t like the look of Cambridge Audio stuff (acknowledging that it’s close to ideal for my sound and cracking value). Pricing is £500-£1000 here. I’m currently considering Audiolab 8300A and Arcam SA20 (the latter may be ideal, given volume is rarely cranked up). But I do need reliability, this will be streaming radio/deezer for 4-5hrs a day on weekends. Is there anything else I should consider?
Thanks for reading.
 

Tonestar1

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Nov 4, 2008
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How about some Neat iotas as a speaker option? The were designed to work on shelves or be wall mounted. As for amp how about the Yammy S701, not heard it but I really like the look of it in the silver. Half decent onboard DAC and can be had for less than £500 atm.
 
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Tonestar1

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Nov 4, 2008
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This is pretty cool looking and gets great reviews.
 

Esra

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Feb 20, 2011
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You could consider Kef LSX or even LS50W if you like these speakers and you have the flexibility of a very compact system to use them elsewhere too later .

Besides that there are a lot of options in your budget.Within your budget i would consider the Yamaha R-N803D as for its room correction (could be usefull in your enviroment) and 2nd speaker output to serve maybe another area.Looks & works nice i.m.o. an versatile amp and good enough to keep.
 
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Tonestar1

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Nov 4, 2008
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Been having a think about this.
Esra's post makes a lot of sense. But if you want separate components, then I'd be thinking about the following.
You are only using a single source so why not just get a decent DAC with volume control and a power amp. That would give best bang for buck rather than paying for a load of inputs and features you will never use on an integrated. You also have the option of switching either if you decide one isn't up to the task or going down the active speaker route.
 

Big Aura

Well-known member
Oct 13, 2008
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Thanks all - this is certainly something to thing about.

I've more or less landed on LS50s (those NEATs come in nice colours, but the design leaves me cold). So that means (save discovering a truely beautiful small brilliant speaker), I'm only looking at integrated amps with DACs built-in now.

I want to keep boxes to a minimum so won't do a DAC/Power amp combo (so that makes the Sprout appealing - it's tiny, but the wood on top looks a bit nasty).

I've also talked myself into a slightly larger budget (after I talked myself out of spending £550 on a Lego Millennium Falcon!). So i'm looking at the Arcam SA20, PS Spout (but need to find a London stockist), the Rotel RA1592 (a £2k amp, but there's an ex-demo available nearby for about £1,300), the Musical Fidelity MS3i. And as an outlier, there's the Wireless Kefs - which are meant to sound amazing but I worrying I'll feel I've let the side down by going for actives - I refuse to engage with Nespresso because it's such a locked-in system!

Trying to arrange a demo but tricky to find somewhere with all in stock and a few places are actually cool on demos this weekend due to Black Friday...
 

Bumrah

Well-known member
Sep 28, 2012
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Thanks all - this is certainly something to thing about.

I've more or less landed on LS50s (those NEATs come in nice colours, but the design leaves me cold). So that means (save discovering a truely beautiful small brilliant speaker), I'm only looking at integrated amps with DACs built-in now.

I want to keep boxes to a minimum so won't do a DAC/Power amp combo (so that makes the Sprout appealing - it's tiny, but the wood on top looks a bit nasty).

I've also talked myself into a slightly larger budget (after I talked myself out of spending £550 on a Lego Millennium Falcon!). So i'm looking at the Arcam SA20, PS Spout (but need to find a London stockist), the Rotel RA1592 (a £2k amp, but there's an ex-demo available nearby for about £1,300), the Musical Fidelity MS3i. And as an outlier, there's the Wireless Kefs - which are meant to sound amazing but I worrying I'll feel I've let the side down by going for actives - I refuse to engage with Nespresso because it's such a locked-in system!

Trying to arrange a demo but tricky to find somewhere with all in stock and a few places are actually cool on demos this weekend due to Black Friday...
If it's not too late and you don't mind slightly older speakers that are discontinued i would highly recommend the PSB Imagine Mini's. Very small but don't be deceived by this, they have some real oomph and some excellent reviews. They do come in a variety of colours with gloss options i think. They are rear firing but don't mind being placed against a wall.
 

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
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Thanks all - this is certainly something to thing about.

I've more or less landed on LS50s (those NEATs come in nice colours, but the design leaves me cold). So that means (save discovering a truely beautiful small brilliant speaker), I'm only looking at integrated amps with DACs built-in now.

I want to keep boxes to a minimum so won't do a DAC/Power amp combo (so that makes the Sprout appealing - it's tiny, but the wood on top looks a bit nasty).

I've also talked myself into a slightly larger budget (after I talked myself out of spending £550 on a Lego Millennium Falcon!). So i'm looking at the Arcam SA20, PS Spout (but need to find a London stockist), the Rotel RA1592 (a £2k amp, but there's an ex-demo available nearby for about £1,300), the Musical Fidelity MS3i. And as an outlier, there's the Wireless Kefs - which are meant to sound amazing but I worrying I'll feel I've let the side down by going for actives - I refuse to engage with Nespresso because it's such a locked-in system!

Trying to arrange a demo but tricky to find somewhere with all in stock and a few places are actually cool on demos this weekend due to Black Friday...
I'm disappointed that you're not buying the Millennium Falcon ;)
 
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Big Aura

Well-known member
Oct 13, 2008
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All set up over the weekend and really happy. Would be better in a bigger house but the economic uncertainty caused by stuff means there's no chance of that!

The Falcon is something that cannot be moved without extreme care (as it breaks easily) and my small house means it would never have a permanent display place.

Next year....
 

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