Time to replace my 20+ year old super-budget separates.

Rups

New member
Feb 21, 2016
3
0
0
Hello,

I am about to buy a new set of separates to replace my old system from student days and find myself lacking impartial advice. So came here to beg from generous enthusiasts!

I am considering a Rotel RA-11 amp but am unsure about cd and speakers. I have posted in the HiFi section with my CD dilemma. My speakers dilemma is whether to go with some discounted, ex display Acoustic Energy 301 (What HiFi review of RA-10 amp says are a great match)...or B&W 686 S2, which a nice shiny shop near me recommended as B&W are same group as Rotel and well matched. I have heard the AE301 with a different amp and in a poor listening environment (shop floor of a less shiny but more helpful shop near me). I have not heard the B&Ws. To me the AE sounded a little thin but might have been the poor listening environment or even that I am not used to the more natural sound of better speakers. Any views out there would be most welcome!

Thanks.
 

good_enough

Well-known member
Mar 12, 2016
14
8
10,525
Well I wouldn't go in the shiny shop again. The idea that two brands should work well together because they have common shareholders is not the most persuasive.

I've owned KEF, Wharfedale, Linn and B&W before alighting upon my current MA Studio 20SEs (which someone will have to prise from my cold, dead hands) and I've been least impressed with B&W which to my ears had been 'warmed up' and were generally not true to life. Noaudiophile.com seems to find the same about the 686's. (Mine were 110s which was a distant great-great-great-grandfather to the 686).

Shouldn't you be heading down to Richer to audition the Marantz 6005 amp which has been garlanded everywhere before settling on the Rotel? Another speaker choice in your price range from general reports seems to be the CA Aero6. As a strategy I'd probably try to listen to that combination as 'what the papers say' and work out from there, with speakers probably being the biggest influence on sound in that price range. Trust your own ears - if it doesn't set your foot tapping, move on. I know what you mean by 'thin' - to my ears Tannoys always had that leaning - but it is possible to find detail and an open soundstage with a heartbeat that suits you, you just have to keep listening! Take your time after twenty years...

Also a recommendation for Richer - if they know that they're definitely going to get at least 700 quid of your hard-earned, then after a listen in their (usually pokey) demo room they'll usually let you bring back choice A and try choice B, just so long as you don't throw it under a truck in the interim. Just explain your situation and ask for their best shot at the first things to listen to.
 

Rups

New member
Feb 21, 2016
3
0
0
Hi,

Thanks for this helpful reply. Although I was impatient and had already made the purchases, I can see this is excellent advice.

I have gone with the Rotel and the AE301s (bought online and as an ex display from Richer respectively). This was reckless, having not heard them together, of course. But the result is OK. Initially it all DID sound a little thin. But then I started to realise the differences. In many ways I had enjoyed the lovely rich depth of my old system. They were very sensitive speakers and the amp suited my ear. The new amp (even with old speakers) gives a much more controlled and punchy rythm and resolves a busy midrange much better. And the AE speakers can find a lot of detail. After some listening, "thin" is morphing into refined and natural for me.
 

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