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Speaker and amp upgrade - Dali Oberon 5 + ???

samirqadir

Active member
Oct 10, 2020
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Hello! My first posting here in the forums... I've owned a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s + NAD 326BEE for several years now, and am looking to upgrade to something with a punchier sound and more detail, but overall I like the fairly neutral tonal quality of my current setup. I also have an SVS SB12NSD subwoofer, which I plan to keep. The system is used 80% for listening to music, and 20% as part of a 5.1 home theater (I have a separate ADCOM amp that drives center and surround speakers, which is fine...)

The setup is in the middle of my L-shaped living room, which is probably ~400 sq ft, 8ft ceilings. The Wharfedales + NAD 326 can get decently loud in this space. The primary music source is an Audiolab 6000N streaming main Amazon hi-res music, plus some music off a NAS on my local network, mostly CD-quality stuff.

So after some research I was thinking of going for the Dali Oberon 5s, which seem like a really nice pair of speakers. Wonder if folks have recommendations for an amp to go with them - I'm thinking Cambridge Audio CXA81, which has great reviews all over the web, or Rega Elex-R, which also seems to be a fantastic amp but a bit older design? WhatHiFi said the Rega is a good amp to pair with the Oberon 5s, but will it sound much better than the Cambridge or about the same? I'm leaning towards the Cambridge... it helps that it's a few hundred $$ cheaper than the Rega!
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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I've heard the Oberon 5s sounding very involving and persuasive with the Arcam SA10, so I would recommend giving this combination a listen, or perhaps even trying the SA20.

I've owned the Elex-R but I haven't heard it with the Dalis. The age of the design isn't really important (And it's not that old anyway), and I think anyone looking around the £1k price point should audition it. I didn't find it very involving with any of the speakers I tried it with, but it's a very capable amplifier and many people love it.

If you are looking at floorstanding speakers around the price point of the Oberon 5s, I'd suggest also considering the Fyne Audio F302 or F303, and the new Monitor Audio Bronze 200. There's also some very good prices out there for the KEF Q550s which, if you're happy with a plain black or white finish, are well worth a listen.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
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Hi. Try to audition if you can, only you can tell what works for you. From my perspective, the Oberon 5 + CXA81 might be to much of a good thing, so if you want the CA, consider Wharfedale Evo series or Linton, or Acoustic Energy AE300 or 500. If you want the Oberon, I'd look at Arcam or Hegel's new H95 (or even the H120, since both can stream and you can move the Audiolab to fund them), or the best Hegel you can afford on the sh market. For what it's worth, I'd get the Hegel H120 + whatever speakers match it.
 
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samirqadir

Active member
Oct 10, 2020
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Thanks all, good advice!

The age of the design isn't really important
That got me thinking - looking around, it seems there are quite a few decent used power amps available for around $500, e.g., https://www.saturdayaudio.com/pre-owned-gear. Instead of buying a whole new amp, I wonder if I should get a transparent, clean power amp, and feed it from my NAD326's preamp output. That will free up cash to spend a bit more on speakers, maybe a used pair of Monitor Audio Silver 300s that will really fill up the living room (dreaming... :) )

Any thoughts on this approach? I don't really need any of the latest features that will come with a newer amp. I realize I might be missing out on the latest audio quality improvements, but I'm hoping that won't matter too much as long the power amp is decent quality. Worst case, I'll be looking at upgrading the amp in another couple years.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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Your NAD C326BEE offers decent current delivery that will comfortable drive all but the trickiest of speaker loads.

Given your latest reply I would suggest buying the speakers you really want and which suit the room, and enjoying them for a while with your NAD while you save up for a worthwhile amplifier upgrade. The pre-amp plays a large part in overall transparency, so simply adding additional power to your NAD isn't going to give you the big step forward you might expect.
 

samirqadir

Active member
Oct 10, 2020
5
3
25
Hello - thought I'd post an update. After doing some more research and trying to stay somewhat close to my original budget, I narrowed my options to Monitor Audio Silver 200, KEF Q750, and Focal Chorus 726. After looking around for a bit, I found a pair of Focal Chorus 726s on closeout for $1400, which seemed like a decent price. I received and set them up a couple weeks ago, and they sound incredible (to my ears anyway!) I'm very happy with the purchase. They also look good in my living room, which never hurts :)

I also ended up spending a bit of money on SVS Soundpath cables after a few days with the new speakers, and I think I do hear a difference compared to my old cables.

Now looking at amps. I'm liking what I read about Musical Fidelity, maybe the M5si if I can get it used - I've seen some prices around $1500. Arcam SA30 or Hegel H120 also are possibilities, although they are pricier but as mentioned earlier, I could sell the Audiolab 6000N with either of those two amps. However, my streaming setup works fairly well so I don't necessarily want to mess with it :)
 

GroeneLeeuw

Well-known member
Nov 4, 2019
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525
Hello - thought I'd post an update. After doing some more research and trying to stay somewhat close to my original budget, I narrowed my options to Monitor Audio Silver 200, KEF Q750, and Focal Chorus 726. After looking around for a bit, I found a pair of Focal Chorus 726s on closeout for $1400, which seemed like a decent price. I received and set them up a couple weeks ago, and they sound incredible (to my ears anyway!) I'm very happy with the purchase. They also look good in my living room, which never hurts :)

I also ended up spending a bit of money on SVS Soundpath cables after a few days with the new speakers, and I think I do hear a difference compared to my old cables.

Now looking at amps. I'm liking what I read about Musical Fidelity, maybe the M5si if I can get it used - I've seen some prices around $1500. Arcam SA30 or Hegel H120 also are possibilities, although they are pricier but as mentioned earlier, I could sell the Audiolab 6000N with either of those two amps. However, my streaming setup works fairly well so I don't necessarily want to mess with it :)
Congratulations on your purchase, I have the same Focal model and I'm very happy with them as well! It's a lot of speaker for the money.

As for the search of a new amp, I humble suggest the Denon PMA1600NE at around the same price. It's a nice combination with the Focals and very well equipped with lots of features, both analog as digital with more than enough power to drive your speakers well.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
395
206
19,270
The Denon is a good recommendation and one I would endorse.

Focal make lovely speakers but they need particular care in matching to avoid sounding slightly nasal and thin. The Denon offers strong current delivery with plenty of clarity but also a touch of warmth that will suit the Focals to a T. It may not have a British audiophile name, but it's every bit as good as anything else at or near the price.
 

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