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New speakers for old electronics budget £3,000

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FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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Thinking more clearly today I had better clarify the bass issues I have had in the past.
All from memory. These are the main changes & issues in the past few years.
With Cyrus electronics:
Mission 782 floorstanders – boomy bass.
Von Schweikert vr1 standmount – too lean.
Spendor SA1 standmount – too lean.
With Quad amps, Cyrus CD player:
Mission 782 floorstanders – boomy bass.
Spendor SA1 – too lean until put nearer corners then boomy bass.
Change to CA 751BD as CD player:
Much leaner than Cyrus CD player.
Quad 21L2 – quite good actually thinking about it. Not too boomy but a bit lacking in the low end.
Castle Richmond II – quite good. Better when nearer corners. A bit lean.
Change to Quad 67 CD player:
Better overall than 751BD.
More and better controlled bass. Well controlled with Castle speakers.
Overall actually very happy with the Castle speakers. Want a bit more low end. They are also old.
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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Appologies if I was coming across as a negative and miserable *******, we all have our likes and dislikes but any kind of looseness or lack of control in the bass finds me reaching for the off button.

In my view, the primary function of the amplifier is to control the speaker, no point in asking an amplifier designed to drive simple speakers with benign characteristics to drive 'difficult' ones. It may appear to go loud enough without obvious distortion but when amplifiers are operated outside their 'comfort zone' all kinds of things can happen.

Boomy bass is one problem, as is the inability to produce any bass at all and even if these areas sound fine there are plenty of other issues, a lack of clarity in the midrange due to unobserved bass problems, a hardness in the mid and high range caused by the crossover etc etc, all problems that can be causes by inadequate amplification.

This is, in my view, made much worse by the modern trend towards buying better loudspeakers and cutting back on the amplifier.
 

MakkaPakka

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May 25, 2013
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With such a long list of things you've been unhappy with it's doubtful you will ever be happy. I actually have one of the speakers you list and I don't find them 'lean' at all.

Have you measured the frequency response of the room and looked into fixing the room acoustics? Boomy bass is not rocket science to fix.
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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MakkaPakka said:
With such a long list of things you've been unhappy with it's doubtful you will ever be happy. I actually have one of the speakers you list and I don't find them 'lean' at all.

Have you measured the frequency response of the room and looked into fixing the room acoustics? Boomy bass is not rocket science to fix.
I'm not sure the OP has boomy bass as such, just bass that fails to deliver with some combos sounding too much and others a bit light. Unless the room is truly awful, the OP just needs to think through what he is trying to achieve and the best way of going about it.

Quite frankly, for a budget of about £3k there are tons of options that will sound better than any speaker you choose driven by your current power amp. I f you want to keep as much of your Quad gear as possible just replace your power amp with, say, the PMC monoblocks and choose pretty much any speaker you like in the £1500 range.

Of course at that point a better pre-amp becomes a viable option too, but i have a feeling I am taking you in a direction you might not want to go.
 

delfinus

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Apr 7, 2011
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Been to some Hi-Fi show just recently and I audtioned to many expensive system with rediculous crazy prices. But the most I was masmerized with Magnepan 1.7 speakers. I think they have very good price in USA only 2000 USD. In Europe they are around 3000EUR. Speakers were hooked also to good amp Moodwright KWI 200. What stayed to remember is that there was only this organic and natural sound of music in the room. Other expensive systems did not manage to achieve this on that particular show.

best, d.
 

MakkaPakka

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May 25, 2013
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I don't disagree but when you've gone through that much 'quality' equipment and didn't like any of it then maybe it's time to try something other than continual box swapping. My suggestion would be to try some rolled up duvets/piled cushions behind the speakers to see what that does to the boomy bass.

The 'current room' is detailed at 11x9 - from personal experience I would say it's all but impossible to get good bass in a room that size without putting some thought into the acoustics. His new bigger room should make things a lot better.
 

altruistic.lemon

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Jul 25, 2011
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Why muck around? Get yourself some refurbished Quad ESL 63s and live happily ever after. You can pick up manufacturer refurbished ones from ebay for around the £1500 mark, and you'll not hear much better.
 

MakkaPakka

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May 25, 2013
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I've never heard QUAD ESL's but I have seen them - they're big buggers and I think he might struggle to accomodate them in a 15x12 room. Don't they need about three feet behind them?
 

FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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Davedotco – no worries! I think your posts are helpful.
I've enjoyed most of the systems I've had but known I could get better.
The start of the box swapping was after getting my Cyrus amps back from repair.
I had never been completely happy with them, being quite lean sounding and bright, and decided a change was needed. Most of the replacement kit has been second hand or discounted. Sold on the stuff I don't want any more so not cost me too much.
Quad ESL 63's are a possiblity but not sure after demoing the ESL 2805's.
Also if the 63's break they are expensive to fix.
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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altruistic.lemon said:
Why muck around? Get yourself some refurbished Quad ESL 63s and live happily ever after. You can pick up manufacturer refurbished ones from ebay for around the £1500 mark, and you'll not hear much better.
Space considerations aside, that is a remarkable good call Al.

When I lived in Sydney I was lucky enough to live with a pair of mid 80's ESL 63s for a while. Not exactly 'rock and roll' but very, very good in other areas and I missed them when they were gone.

There was a PSB radio station that appeared to be nothing more than a nice middle age couple playing classical music, much of it off vinyl. They would introduce the music in a totally amature manner then play the record, often concluding with a comment along the lines of "wasn't that lovely".

Totally unprofessional but quite captivating in it's way.
 

Thompsonuxb

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Feb 19, 2012
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I still think you should upgrade your amp, with that kind of budget you could get some serious kit that'll drive any speaker you own...... just saying.
 

audipheonix

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Sep 22, 2011
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Have you listened to any Usher Floorstanders or Standmounters. Try demoing them, they are good across frequencies. Happy hunting. :rockout:
 

FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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Refurb ESL 63's. I've been thinking of getting a pair for ages. The only issue is if they break they cost a lot to fix. I can get a demo quite easily so that's on the to do list.

I have Emailed another Hi-Fi specialist to see what they think.

The Harbeth dealer I Emailed suggested a speaker that is close to the equivalent next model up from the Spendors I demoed but at a similar price. Although similar specs and driver configuration it might not sound as good as the equivalent Spendor, or it might sound the same or better. Difficult to get a demo, Harbeth have not yet replied to my Email for local dealers.

Or I could get Spendor SP1/2 for about £600.00.

Also considering upgrading my amp to a Quad 606.

Good thing I can take my time to decide!
 

FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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I found someone who can demo Harbeth.

I've got to book a demo. He suggests M30.1 or HL5. Both cost a similar amount to the Spendor SP2/3R2. He advises that for a smaller room the HL5 might be a safer choice. He also thinks that the Quad 303 should be able to drive the speakers.

For now I have put the Quad 21L2 speakers back on. I have set the 'step' filter to 100Hz which has reduced boom and improved the overall tonal balance.

I think I might have to rule out the Quad ESL 63's due to size and the demo with the ESL 2805's. They don't work too to well with dance music!
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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FennerMachine said:
I found someone who can demo Harbeth. I've got to book a demo. He suggests M30.1 or HL5. Both cost a similar amount to the Spendor SP2/3R2. He advises that for a smaller room the HL5 might be a safer choice. He also thinks that the Quad 303 should be able to drive the speakers. For now I have put the Quad 21L2 speakers back on. I have set the 'step' filter to 100Hz which has reduced boom and improved the overall tonal balance. I think I might have to rule out the Quad ESL 63's due to size and the demo with the ESL 2805's. They don't work too to well with dance music!
I love the tone controls on this (and other Quad) preamps as easily the best and most useable I have ever used, I wish more manufacturers would follow their lead and produce something as useful.

I assume you are taking your amplifier to the dem so when you have had a good listen to the speakers and 'have a handle' on what they are doing, get the dealer to give them a go with a big amplifier, something with at least 100 watts channel, let us know how you get on.
 

FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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I'll let you know what I think of them. I'll also see if he can put a more powerful power amp on as well once I have demoed them with the 303. Although I don't listen at very high volume levels, never go above 10 on the volume (12/13 durring the demo last week - larger room) and the Quad 44 manual suggest that 12 to 17 is the normal setting to use!

Correction to my last post - M30.1 should be better for a smaller room not the HL5. The HL5 are have a larger bass response.
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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FennerMachine said:
I'll let you know what I think of them. I'll also see if he can put a more powerful power amp on as well once I have demoed them with the 303. Although I don't listen at very high volume levels, never go above 10 on the volume (12/13 durring the demo last week - larger room) and the Quad 44 manual suggest that 12 to 17 is the normal setting to use!

Correction to my last post - M30.1 should be better for a smaller room not the HL5. The HL5 are have a larger bass response.
The 303 power amplifier is a very conservative design, originally built to drive electrostatics it does a perfectly good job driving conventional speakers providing it remains within it's capabilities.

I know Harbeth go out of their way to promote their speakers as being a benign load and easy to drive but I have some experience of the M30 and 30.1 models and I really find they are quite responsive to different amplifiers, be interested to hear how you get on.
 

Macspur

Well-known member
May 3, 2010
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18,540
I will be interested on your thoughts of the Harbeths, but speaking from experience, the more power you can give them the better they will be... as lovely an amp my Sugden Masterclass was, it didn't have the same control as the Accuphase over the SHL5's.

Mac

www.macsmusic.blogbubble.net
 

Frank Harvey

Well-known member
Jun 27, 2008
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davedotco said:
I find a lot of 'modern' systems have bass issues which I personally put down the current 'fashion' for good speakers with amplifiers that are wholly inadequate to get the best from them.

I know changing speakers makes a big difference, but in many cases these differences are simply 'presentational', more/less bass. brighter/darker treble etc etc. To make a real difference, to really enhance the capabilities of the system is much more difficult and it is necessary to use good amplification to do so, something that people seem increasingly reluctant to do these days.
Together, we should start a crusade...

I've been trying to get this point across for years. Unfortunately, many think that getting a good ex demo bargain pair of speakers will vastly improve their system - with no thought as to whether the amplifier is up to the job or not. I've seen (on another forum) people buying demanding speakers in the £2,000/3,000 region and using them with sub £400 AV receivers. And they wonder why the speakers don't sound like £2,000/3,000 worth. I'm not linking this to the OP's post, just backing up the point you have made in general.
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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David@FrankHarvey said:
davedotco said:
I find a lot of 'modern' systems have bass issues which I personally put down the current 'fashion' for good speakers with amplifiers that are wholly inadequate to get the best from them.

I know changing speakers makes a big difference, but in many cases these differences are simply 'presentational', more/less bass. brighter/darker treble etc etc. To make a real difference, to really enhance the capabilities of the system is much more difficult and it is necessary to use good amplification to do so, something that people seem increasingly reluctant to do these days.
Together, we should start a crusade...

I've been trying to get this point across for years. Unfortunately, many think that getting a good ex demo bargain pair of speakers will vastly improve their system - with no thought as to whether the amplifier is up to the job or not. I've seen (on another forum) people buying demanding speakers in the £2,000/3,000 region and using them with sub £400 AV receivers. And they wonder why the speakers don't sound like £2,000/3,000 worth. I'm not linking this to the OP's post, just backing up the point you have made in general.
I put this down to the breakup and failure of the dealer network in the uk, far from just the dealers fault, so I'm not just blaming modern dealers but that is the issue.

Not that long ago (20yrs?) the dealer did not just have opinions but he had opinions that he could back up with constructive demonstrations that would show the customer what was really important and how a system went together.

The shift to mass market, cut price dealers has meant that this has almost totally disapeared at the budget end of the market, the emphasis is on quick sales of well reviewed product at low prices. The customer has no reason to trust the dealer so buys on review and price.

This leaves the customer at the mercy of whatever is the current marketing fad, such as the one that currently places the loudspeaker as the pre-eminant component in the system, often at the expense of the amplifier and often with dissapointing results.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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I agree. There's a dealer not a million miles away that tends to demo ridiculously high end speakers with almost budget amplification (that really isn't up to the job). I know why dealers do it, but I won't do it. It's an easy way to sell expensive speakers. If the customer likes a particular speaker, the last thing they usually want to hear is that they need X amplification which is out of their budget, so the dealer will pair it up with a cheaper amp within their budget to get the sale. It'll sound ok, as chances are that customer has never heard those speakers sound as good as they can sound, and the better drivers and build quality will give them some benefit over cheaper speakers that they may have heard.
 

Rethep

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May 2, 2011
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If you want to spend that kind of money, look at the "Peitho" speakers. I started a thread about the "303" somewhere on this forum.

Google for "HayEndAudio". It is built in Holland, that could be a problem to travel, but might be an option. If you want to spend this money, it could be worth the effort!
 

Thompsonuxb

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Feb 19, 2012
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Thankfully others are seeing this could be...well there is a possibility that an amp upgrade is what you really need FennerMachine.

Looking at that other thread you mention Cyrus amps - was it one of their low powered amps(40wpc) you drove your speakers with?

A serious power upgrade is methinks what you really need or an amp with the ability to control your choice of speakers - stop and start your drivers and control them across the diaphram.

That Quad set up needs to be put in a glass case and placed in your museum...... but seriously have you considered auditioning your speakers with better amplification just to see if they're better than you think they are?
 

FennerMachine

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Feb 5, 2011
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The Cyrus amps were an aCA7.5 pre with 2 x SmartPowers in mono.

105WPC mono into 8 Ohms but not much more into 4 Ohms. Possibly not the best amps for some of the speakers I've owned such as the Mission 782 - I think they were 6 Ohms, but the Spendor SA1's 8 Ohms with minimum of 6.3 so they should have drove them well.

I will try another set of amps with my Quad 21L2's - maybe a good integrated. What would you recommend?

Amp requirements: 4 analogue inputs or 3 analogue plus 1 HT bypass

I like the Quad sound - prefer it to Cyrus.
 

Thompsonuxb

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Feb 19, 2012
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FennerMachine said:
The Cyrus amps were an aCA7.5 pre with 2 x SmartPowers in mono.

105WPC mono into 8 Ohms but not much more into 4 Ohms. Possibly not the best amps for some of the speakers I've owned such as the Mission 782 - I think they were 6 Ohms, but the Spendor SA1's 8 Ohms with minimum of 6.3 so they should have drove them well.

I will try another set of amps with my Quad 21L2's - maybe a good integrated. What would you recommend?

Amp requirements: 4 analogue inputs or 3 analogue plus 1 HT bypass

I like the Quad sound - prefer it to Cyrus.
Has mentioned in this thread already and has mentioned in your other thread by me the Quad 909 power amp. I've heard this amp with the matching CD player that go's with it - its a digital amp with digital inputs but it sounds nice...controlled, thats if you can find one - with the budget you're talking you have so much choice, I'd love to be in your position,

The Quad speakers like the Missions respond to better quality amplification, myself I'm a budget man, happy to tinker about with interconnects,positioning and the like. I got lucky with my set up and the accoustics of the room its in. start by digging up "the worlds greatest amps " issue of WHF and go from there.

let us know what you find out there.
 

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