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Pondering an upgrade - where do I start?

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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In the summer I'll be looking at improving my set-up. Trouble is there's nothing wrong with my current bundles. There are better individual equipment out there but comes at a cost. Whatever I change will need to have to following traits: The presentation needs to be natural or organic. I quite often refer to my bundles as "old Skool", so any upgrade cannot sound analytical.

These are the possible amps I've been pondering:

Another Tucana
Parasound, which are highly rated by owners
Arcam SA30. Love Arcams in general but will this be a sideways step rather than a audible upgrade
Sugden A21 Signature. Again, like Parasound, owners love this brand.
Krell. Although will be different I've no experience of the brand.
Creek Evo 100.
Croft. Not sure if I have the appetite for a hybrid valve amp.

Whatever amp I go for must be flexible when it comes to speaker matching.

The only real reason for a possible change is I've had Leemas for 11 years and quite fancy a different flavour.

The Leema works a treat with Monitor Audio Silver and Gold, PMCs, Totems, Harbeth.
Arcams work well with Monitor Audio, PMCs, Totems, Harbeth.

There's a pattern slowly forming.

What do you guys think?
 

Al ears

Moderator
I see where you are coming from and, particularly as I now require an amplifier with a balance control, I have been looking around for a while. I settled on the idea of getting a Parasound Halo Hint 6 but I guess in your case it really depends on whether you need everything it offers.
Other options I looked at were second hand Luxman or indeed a Rogue Audio Sphinx, although this is a highly rated hybrid.
Hopefully not confusing matters further but have you thought about adding Primare to your list?
 

bigfish786

Moderator
Jan 29, 2013
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hi PP.
i had the Leema Pulse for around 4 years and was really happy with it. I thought it sounded great for the money, it replaced an Arcam amp that i still own, but is now unused.
as good as it was, the Marantz I have now was a major upgrade. not that I'm recommending it to you, just that there are definitely improvements to be found away from the Leema. though, the phono stage in the Pulse is really quite good!
If i were looking, I'd put Luxman on the list too.
 
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plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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hi PP.
i had the Leema Pulse for around 4 years and was really happy with it. I thought it sounded great for the money, it replaced an Arcam amp that i still own, but is now unused.
as good as it was, the Marantz I have now was a major upgrade. not that I'm recommending it to you, just that there are definitely improvements to be found away from the Leema. though, the phono stage in the Pulse is really quite good!
If i were looking, I'd put Luxman on the list too.
I remember your Pulse with Focal speakers.

What Marantz are you talking about?

Luxman sounds good to me with the dancing VU meters. The only problem is the Tucana MKII is in the same ballpark and can be had for about 2k (s/hand). I'm sure used Accuphase, Luxman... and I know the Tucana is a faultless performer.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,907
249
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I see where you are coming from and, particularly as I now require an amplifier with a balance control, I have been looking around for a while. I settled on the idea of getting a Parasound Halo Hint 6 but I guess in your case it really depends on whether you need everything it offers.
Other options I looked at were second hand Luxman or indeed a Rogue Audio Sphinx, although this is a highly rated hybrid.
Hopefully not confusing matters further but have you thought about adding Primare to your list?
Have to say the Parasound Hint 6 does get the juices flowing, although unsure why. I think I could cope with built-in Dac, as long as it has a good phono stage.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
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I’m one of maybe a few on here that (probably) own a sugden a21sig. It’s a lovely amp. Dose it sound natural? I think the former” organic”would be more apt. Music has flesh and weight to it thats hard to explain it just sounds right. Robert Glaspers “covered” sounds rich and propulsive, instruments are textured and multi layered the bass is firm deep and controlled. Gets the hairs on the neck up.

With the right speakers it’s very dynamic and very airy but never bright, nothing but thieves “not made by design” is breath taking and in room experience the lead singer you can really feel his every word . Through many amps can sound coarse and unrefined. Not so through the sugden.

But what suprised me the most is it speed of delivery. Though the speed maybe more to do with my heresy 3, which I know some don’t like but are a match made in heavy. Don’t match smooth speakers to it you need a ying to it’s jang.

Can the sugden drive all speakers? No! can drive some of the ones you listed? Some. I had some revel m106s which it sounded lovely with it, but at higher volumes it really ran out of puff to control them, at lower volumes I’ve never heard anything like it. Keep the speakers sensitivity above 90db and you’ll be laughing tbh. I decided to go with klipsch, there not as refined as the revels, but man there fun and music through it just sound right. With there sensitivity it’s like having 100watt mono blocks on either side.

If you want to drive more speakers jump to the a21se.

I also use a chord qutest with it mostly because it has a class a out put stage. It doubles up on that class a richness.

If you do go with one and you have little ones around, be warned it gets hotter the hells kitchen and will get hotter on summer days so good airflow is required.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,907
249
20,070
I’m one of maybe a few on here that (probably) own a sugden a21sig. It’s a lovely amp. Dose it sound natural? I think the former” organic”would be more apt. Music has flesh and weight to it thats hard to explain it just sounds right. Robert Glaspers “covered” sounds rich and propulsive, instruments are textured and multi layered the bass is firm deep and controlled. Gets the hairs on the neck up.

With the right speakers it’s very dynamic and very airy but never bright, nothing but thieves “not made by design” is breath taking and in room experience the lead singer you can really feel his every word . Through many amps can sound coarse and unrefined. Not so through the sugden.

But what suprised me the most is it speed of delivery. Though the speed maybe more to do with my heresy 3, which I know some don’t like but are a match made in heavy. Don’t match smooth speakers to it you need a ying to it’s jang.

Can the sugden drive all speakers? No! can drive some of the ones you listed? Some. I had some revel m106s which it sounded lovely with it, but at higher volumes it really ran out of puff to control them, at lower volumes I’ve never heard anything like it. Keep the speakers sensitivity above 90db and you’ll be laughing tbh. I decided to go with klipsch, there not as refined as the revels, but man there fun and music through it just sound right. With there sensitivity it’s like having 100watt mono blocks on either side.

If you want to drive more speakers jump to the a21se.

I also use a chord qutest with it mostly because it has a class a out put stage. It doubles up on that class a richness.

If you do go with one and you have little ones around, be warned it gets hotter the hells kitchen and will get hotter on summer days so good airflow is required.
Cheers.
Certainly another one I must hear. Speakers shouldn't be an issue as the PMCs are 90 dbs into 8 ohms.

The only slight concern, as with most Class A amps, is the fact they get really hot. That could be a problem as I use the Leema, during lockdown, for up to 12 hours most days. Heatwise, it doesn't break a sweat.

I know most owners will say they are meant to be hot but I would be on tenterhooks after a couple of hours of play. The Leema gets a colossal amount of play each day for most of the last year. Not just CDs and vinyl but have it connected to the Blu-ray player and Sky Box.
 

amormusic

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2016
212
111
10,970
I’m one of maybe a few on here that (probably) own a sugden a21sig. It’s a lovely amp. Dose it sound natural? I think the former” organic”would be more apt. Music has flesh and weight to it thats hard to explain it just sounds right. Robert Glaspers “covered” sounds rich and propulsive, instruments are textured and multi layered the bass is firm deep and controlled. Gets the hairs on the neck up.

With the right speakers it’s very dynamic and very airy but never bright, nothing but thieves “not made by design” is breath taking and in room experience the lead singer you can really feel his every word . Through many amps can sound coarse and unrefined. Not so through the sugden.

But what suprised me the most is it speed of delivery. Though the speed maybe more to do with my heresy 3, which I know some don’t like but are a match made in heavy. Don’t match smooth speakers to it you need a ying to it’s jang.

Can the sugden drive all speakers? No! can drive some of the ones you listed? Some. I had some revel m106s which it sounded lovely with it, but at higher volumes it really ran out of puff to control them, at lower volumes I’ve never heard anything like it. Keep the speakers sensitivity above 90db and you’ll be laughing tbh. I decided to go with klipsch, there not as refined as the revels, but man there fun and music through it just sound right. With there sensitivity it’s like having 100watt mono blocks on either side.

If you want to drive more speakers jump to the a21se.

I also use a chord qutest with it mostly because it has a class a out put stage. It doubles up on that class a richness.

If you do go with one and you have little ones around, be warned it gets hotter the hells kitchen and will get hotter on summer days so good airflow is required.
I too have one and entirely concur with your far more eloquently put description of its qualities than I could manage.

The best description I have managed is it paints a musical picture in my living room, like nothing ever before.

I am in love with how it sounds and the marriage with my PMC 23's and my pimped Jolida FX DAC is a superb combo. I just cannot see this going anywhere.

For the first time I have no desire to change anything.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
778
360
11,270
I too have one and entirely concur with your far more eloquently put description of its qualities than I could manage.

The best description I have managed is it paints a musical picture in my living room, like nothing ever before.

I am in love with how it sounds and the marriage with my PMC 23's and my pimped Jolida FX DAC is a superb combo. I just cannot see this going anywhere.

For the first time I have no desire to change anything.
Very much the same here, very much no desire to change nothing at all, it almost as if sugden is a brand thats very much a secret in hifi circles very rarely spoken about.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
778
360
11,270
Cheers.
Certainly another one I must hear. Speakers shouldn't be an issue as the PMCs are 90 dbs into 8 ohms.

The only slight concern, as with most Class A amps, is the fact they get really hot. That could be a problem as I use the Leema, during lockdown, for up to 12 hours most days. Heatwise, it doesn't break a sweat.

I know most owners will say they are meant to be hot but I would be on tenterhooks after a couple of hours of play. The Leema gets a colossal amount of play each day for most of the last year. Not just CDs and vinyl but have it connected to the Blu-ray player and Sky Box.
Same here its used as full-on media centre watching movie after movie its not a problem

Nothing to worry about with that side of things heat-wise. Mines on 8 hrs most days once it reaches peak temp
it stabilises and doesn't really move, ambient will make it hotter but not by much. Just make sure it has good airflow. Those heat sinks aren't for show, they really work and they do a good job the rest of the amp is notably cooler then they are.

TBH it's not really up to speed till after an hour
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
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Same here its used as full-on media centre watching movie after movie its not a problem

Nothing to worry about with that side of things heat-wise. Mines on 8 hrs most days once it reaches peak temp
it stabilises and doesn't really move, ambient will make it hotter but not by much. Just make sure it has good airflow. Those heat sinks aren't for show, they really work and they do a good job the rest of the amp is notably cooler then they are.

TBH it's not really up to speed till after an hour
That's the other problem I have with Class A and valve amps -- they take an age to come up to speed. The Leema is instantaneous.

Point noted about SQ though. No doubt it will better my Pulse, but can I live with it?
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
778
360
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That's the other problem I have with Class A and valve amps -- they take an age to come up to speed. The Leema is instantaneous.

Point noted about SQ though. No doubt it will better my Pulse, but can I live with it?
That's the million-dollar question, and only you can answer that, give it an audition if you can and go from there, it really isn't all that bad. I live with it I'm pretty petty when it comes to usability

Would love to see what you get in the future
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
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Over the last couple of days I've read owners reviews from various forums, and owners of the MK1 Pulse and my sentiments echo their findings. Interestingly, Dali speakers seem to crop up with the Leema. I've heard Dali but not with my amp.

List of possibilities:

Dali Rubicon 5
Harbeth C7
Dynaudio Special 40s.
 

Al ears

Moderator
Over the last couple of days I've read owners reviews from various forums, and owners of the MK1 Pulse and my sentiments echo their findings. Interestingly, Dali speakers seem to crop up with the Leema. I've heard Dali but not with my amp.

List of possibilities:

Dali Rubicon 5
Harbeth C7
Dynaudio Special 40s.
Out of that list I have only heard the C7 and would dearly like to hear the Special 40s at some point as I have heard they can be stunning in the right system.
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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Out of that list I have only heard the C7 and would dearly like to hear the Special 40s at some point as I have heard they can be stunning in the right system.
It's interesting to hear those with more experience of Harbeth who say the C7s are easier to drive than the P3s I had on demo last year. Apparently, the P3s suffer from a big dip in the ohms, although it wasn't noticeable to me.

The problem I have is the PMCs sound great, match the Leema well. At some point the Leema will show up its limitations. The PMCs sound better when I had the Tucana, so I'm caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. I think better speakers is a cheaper option as a amp to significantly better what I have will probably be in the 2.5-3k mark.
 

Al ears

Moderator
It's interesting to hear those with more experience of Harbeth who say the C7s are easier to drive than the P3s I had on demo last year. Apparently, the P3s suffer from a big dip in the ohms, although it wasn't noticeable to me.

The problem I have is the PMCs sound great, match the Leema well. At some point the Leema will show up its limitations. The PMCs sound better when I had the Tucana, so I'm caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. I think better speakers is a cheaper option as a amp to significantly better what I have will probably be in the 2.5-3k mark.
You love the sound of those PMC's right?, and those C7s are likely to cost around £2700
Well I'd keep them and get this....

For what it's worth they dropped the price on the Parasound Halo Hint 6 that I was keeping an eye on so I have bitten the bullet and paid a deposit on it.
 
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plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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You love the sound of those PMC's right?, and those C7s are likely to cost around £2700
Well I'd keep them and get this....

For what it's worth they dropped the price on the Parasound Halo Hint 6 that I was keeping an eye on so I have bitten the bullet and paid a deposit on it.
Nice on Al. Would be good to get some feedback from you once you've acclimatized to the sound.
 
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