Question Speaker question for Arcam SA20 and Cambridge Audio CXN V2

Crams76

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Hi,

I just got back into listening to my hi fi as the kids are growing up we built an extension where I can use it. It’s old though and a little ugly for my wife to like it.

I replaced my much loved Cambridge Audio A640a with a new Arcam SA20 I got in a sale on eBay for £425. After using a dacmagic 100 with a id100 dock I added the CA cxn v2 network player to change out my ca azur 640c cd player since my wife threw out the cd collection to save space, so I’m now happy exploring the music in tidal. I’m still using my 20 year old Celestion F3’s. These were about £250 when I bought them, so guess in todays money that is about £400.

digital interconnect is a Cambridge audio one and rca interconnects are chord silver siren.

The streamer was the first upgrade and I loved it But the sound difference versus the dacmagic is small. The new amp is good a little more refined than the CA But really I can’t notice a major difference either.

To be honest the new equipment sounds really good, but not a massive gain over the old. I can’t help wonder if the speakers need an upgrade too. Curious to know if anyone else has this kit and what they are using. Maybe I am just lucky and the speakers are good for my ears even though they were budget speakers.

l’m tempted by an offer for a pair if Revel Concerta2 F35s for £799 which are heavily discounted. Worried I am chasing something I don’t need to but curious if this new set up can sound even better.

I can also get the b&w 603 s2 for £799.

other thought was KEF Q550 for around same price.

Ideas and feedback appreciated,
 
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snowdog

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Based on my experience I believe you will only to realise the full potential of the SA20 with far better speakers. Last year I upgraded my Monitor Audio Radius 270 lifestyle speakers to B&W 702s2 speakers. A big jump, they were on offer owing to being end of line. I've been running them with an old Arcam 360 receiver and was happy with the sound in the belief that Amps don't make so much difference to the speakers. I actually bought an Arcam SA20 for a 2nd system reusing the old Monitor Audio Radius 270's. I was really impressed with the improvement and tried it out driving my 702's. The difference between that and the Arcam receiver was night & day. So much more detail and the soundstage came right out into the room even at relatively low levels. Ideally I would have an even more powerful Amp to drive the 702's but I'm rarely getting past a 1/4 of the volume dial. Based on my experience I think you will notice a huge difference with higher quality speakers. I ended up buying a 2nd SA20 and use it in my main system as it has Home Theatre bypass. Like you I got both SA20's at a bargain price and also picked up an ST60.
 
I think you really need to get out and audition some speakers yourself. Ideally find a dealer that will let you audition at home as whatever speakers you choose have to work well in your particular room and not necessarily work well with any particular amplifier.
All the speakers you mention seem well regarded but will they work well in your room and be a significant upgrade?
I cannot tell you that.
Speakers are the trickiest things to get right. Get the wrong ones and it doesn't matter how good your amp may be.
 

Crams76

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Based on my experience I believe you will only to realise the full potential of the SA20 with far better speakers. Last year I upgraded my Monitor Audio Radius 270 lifestyle speakers to B&W 702s2 speakers. A big jump, they were on offer owing to being end of line. I've been running them with an old Arcam 360 receiver and was happy with the sound in the belief that Amps don't make so much difference to the speakers. I actually bought an Arcam SA20 for a 2nd system reusing the old Monitor Audio Radius 270's. I was really impressed with the improvement and tried it out driving my 702's. The difference between that and the Arcam receiver was night & day. So much more detail and the soundstage came right out into the room even at relatively low levels. Ideally I would have an even more powerful Amp to drive the 702's but I'm rarely getting past a 1/4 of the volume dial. Based on my experience I think you will notice a huge difference with higher quality speakers. I ended up buying a 2nd SA20 and use it in my main system as it has Home Theatre bypass. Like you I got both SA20's at a bargain price and also picked up an ST60.
Thanks for the feedback, really appreciate it.
 

Crams76

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I think you really need to get out and audition some speakers yourself. Ideally find a dealer that will let you audition at home as whatever speakers you choose have to work well in your particular room and not necessarily work well with any particular amplifier.
All the speakers you mention seem well regarded but will they work well in your room and be a significant upgrade?
I cannot tell you that.
Speakers are the trickiest things to get right. Get the wrong ones and it doesn't matter how good your amp may be.
I‘m going to try out the KEF Q750s as they worked out good value with the bundle deal. The room is a large extension so think these will be big enough. Looking forward to them! Arriving today.
 

Crams76

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Thanks all, I ordered the kef q750 which were bundled with the sa20 all for £1195 in total which I thought was great value, they even threw in some qed speaker cables which are terminated. I returned the original sa20 which was £499 on it’s own. First time I have used Peter Tyson and they were really good about it.

A little part of me was tempted to get the Revels as the rrp was close to £2000 but I was worried they might be too bright /clinical for my taste. The sales advisor just said they were good and really accurate.

All hooked up and I am blown away by the improvement versus the set up with the old celestion f 3s.

Sound is warm, nicely laid back but detailed at the same time. Sound stage much deeper than before.

Think I will enjoy these for a while but if I get some spare cash will certainly look to speaker upgrades first in future.
 

snowdog

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Thanks all, I ordered the kef q750 which were bundled with the sa20 all for £1195 in total which I thought was great value, they even threw in some qed speaker cables which are terminated. I returned the original sa20 which was £499 on it’s own. First time I have used Peter Tyson and they were really good about it.

A little part of me was tempted to get the Revels as the rrp was close to £2000 but I was worried they might be too bright /clinical for my taste. The sales advisor just said they were good and really accurate.

All hooked up and I am blown away by the improvement versus the set up with the old celestion f 3s.

Sound is warm, nicely laid back but detailed at the same time. Sound stage much deeper than before.

Think I will enjoy these for a while but if I get some spare cash will certainly look to speaker upgrades first in future.
Great to hear that you are enjoying the results. Expect the sound to greatly improve as the speakers and Amp break in. Speakers generally take a minimum 100 hours before they start to sound their best.
 

Gray

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Expect the sound to greatly improve as the speakers and Amp break in. Speakers generally take a minimum 100 hours before they start to sound their best.
If he expects it, I fully appreciate that he's likely to hear it.
I know it's perceived wisdom that sound will improve. All speaker manufacturers say so and my own amp manufacturer (Cyrus) said so.
So they can't all be wrong can they?

However, in 4 or 5 decades of changing speakers and amps, I don't think it's this physical 'burn in' that I've heard - certainly not with amps.
More my brain adapting to some very real differences, between familiar and new, I'm sure.

Like I say though, expect and you will hear.....perhaps I need to expect when people tell me to 🤔
(No, that wouldn't work on me).
 
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snowdog

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If he expects it, I fully appreciate that he's likely to hear it.
I know it's perceived wisdom that sound will improve. All speaker manufacturers say so and my own amp manufacturer (Cyrus) said so.
So they can't all be wrong can they?

However, in 4 or 5 decades of changing speakers and amps, I don't think it's this physical 'burn in' that I've heard - certainly not with amps.
More my brain adapting to some very real differences, between familiar and new, I'm sure.

Like I say though, expect and you will hear.....perhaps I need to expect when people tell me to 🤔
(No, that wouldn't work on me).
Whether it's an adjustment of the brain or real world changes in the physical devices I can definitely say that my speakers in particular sounded better to me after a period of running in. Every time I play my system I get that Wow factor and for some music it feels like the artist is present in the room. In the end of the day enjoyment of music is what matters to me, I will leave the science bit to those far cleverer than I.
 

Crams76

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So it is all settling in. Very happy, but this quest for better is a little addictive, so looking forward to listening more over Christmas holidays.

The speaker wire is new too so this probably needs some hours to settle too. QED Xt25 was supplied And has good reviews.

just wondering whether you would expect the DAC on the CA CXN network player to sound better than the DAC in the SA20.

i suppose the only way to work this out is to do some testing, with the old speakers I couldn’t hear any difference between the two. Maybe now this will change.
 

snowdog

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So it is all settling in. Very happy, but this quest for better is a little addictive, so looking forward to listening more over Christmas holidays.

The speaker wire is new too so this probably needs some hours to settle too. QED Xt25 was supplied And has good reviews.

just wondering whether you would expect the DAC on the CA CXN network player to sound better than the DAC in the SA20.

i suppose the only way to work this out is to do some testing, with the old speakers I couldn’t hear any difference between the two. Maybe now this will change.
Definitely a case of trialing and seeing which DAC you prefer. There are also seven different filters in the SA20 DAC so you can play with those to see if you prefer one over the other. I have been using my trusty Arcam irDAC for many years, tried the SA20 DAC which I felt offered a more detailed sound but ultimately I preferred the more weighty sound of my irDAC that has a BurrBrown chip as opposed to Sabre. I picked up the ST60 a few weeks later and tried that DAC as it's an upgraded one from the SA20 and it gives me a more detailed sound but also the weight so I now use that and am very pleased.

Yes can be very addictive, I tend to use most of my components for 10 years or so before upgrading and tend to buy end of line to get a bargain. I'm still using most of my older kit as a second system. Lesson that I have learnt is that if you make an upgrade it's worth spending quite a bit more than the item you are replacing otherwise you are tending to make a sideways move.
 

Din5

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Enjoy your KEF Q750's, I bet they sound good with the Arcam SA20.
I still own a pair of KEF Q5's which also have the 6.5" drivers, it's a great speaker all round, so I can only imagine that the Q750 is even better.
 

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