Starting out with budget/vintage hi-fi and struggling a bit

May 23, 2015
HI all.

I recently had the chance to acquire several different amps and speakers and i've been trialling them (as time allows).

The amps are:

Harman Kardon PM 640

Rotel 935BX

Nad 325BEE

Audiolab 8000a

I initially set these up with PSB Image B1s, but the seller also had Dynaudio DM27s for sale which should have been the better speaker.

I realise music listening is fully subjective, but I had expected to really notice an improvement in using the Audiolab against the others.

However, I actually found that the NAD was my preference.

Anyway, thinking then that the DM27s should be an upgrade I returned the PSBs and began trialling again.

I still find the Audiolab a bit dry and not as involving, but this time I wasn't as sold on the NAD as I expected. The Rotel performed better than previously, but perhaps perversely I was quite happy with the HK PM 640 sound.

Unfortunately I think there is actually an issue with one of the DM 27s in that I think a tweeter is defective. I hear some scratchy/sibilance lilke sound on occasion, although it's hard ot be sure. Maybe they were over-driven?

So. Do my experiences tally with others? IE is it expected that despite its reputation as a great amp the audiolab didn't suit either the speakers or my taste?

The seller also has some Tannoys (6 I think) and Mission 751s. Do either of these stand out as a better match to any of these amps and what sort of money should I expect to pay?

My 'plan' was to identify a really sweet system and sell on the unwanted amps, but (don't tell the wife) I find that each amp has its pros and cons and settling on one and letting the others go will be very difficult.

I wish I could be confident that I have identified the best speaker/amp combination, but with the added complexity of probably replacing the source at some point (i'm using a cheap DVD player currently) and the way the sound changes on warming up I am finding making any kind of decision difficult.

I hope this stimulates some debate and insights. Thanks.


Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
Your brain goes to mush trying to decide what to keep.

I'd keep the NAD amp and the Dynaudios if they don't need expensive repair.

I can't comment on PSBs. Never heard of them.

I was never a fan of the old Audiolab 8000a. It was supposed to be amazing but I always found it a bit too clinical, bordering on harsh, especially with digital sources. On the few occasions I tried to like it (I really wanted one and it's matching FM tuner) but couldn't do it.

At least the NAD was made this century (about seven years ago) rather than the 1990s and 1980s! It shouldn't need servicing any time soon and has a way of sounding bigger and punchier than it's specs suggest and was superb VFM.