Entrigo

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Hi wise forum-dwellers !

In the process of upgrading my setup.

Upgraded speakers from Wharfedale Diamond 9 to Focal Aria 906 last year.

Got my new TT - Technics SL1500C to replace a Audio Technica AT-LP 5.

So, I am now wondering whether I should upgrade amp.

I currently have a Denon PMA-800NE which I like well enough but I am wondering if I would get the best out of the TT and speakers with another amp - found a couple of Cambridge Audio CXA61 for around £400.

As I said, I like the Denon and its warmth, but wouldn’t mind a little more soundstage.

How does the CA compare? And what about sound signature? Read somewhere that it’s lively and fun but somewhere else that, coupled with the Focal (which are quite neutral) not as much.

So, is it a clear upgrade or should I hold out (say until Xmas) and go for something better? If so, suggestions (keeping in mind the preference for engaging and warm sound over neutral)?

Other preferences: Bluetooth, DAC, and would need to connect two sets of speakers (living room and kitchen) which sadly restricts the choice.
 
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Hi wise forum-dwellers !

In the process of upgrading my setup.

Upgraded speakers from Wharfedale Diamond 9 to Focal Aria 906 last year.

Got my new TT - Technics SL1500C to replace a Audio Technica AT-LP 5.

So, I am now wondering whether I should upgrade amp.

I currently have a Denon PMA-800NE which I like well enough but I am wondering if I would get the best out of the TT and speakers with another amp - found a couple of Cambridge Audio CXA61 for around £400.

As I said, I like the Denon and its warmth, but wouldn’t mind a little more soundstage.

How does the CA compare? And what about sound signature? Read somewhere that it’s lively and fun but somewhere else that, coupled with the Focal (which are quite neutral) not as much.

So, is it a clear upgrade or should I hold out (say until Xmas) and go for something better? If so, suggestions (keeping in mind the preference for engaging and warm sound over neutral)?

Other preferences: Bluetooth, DAC, and would need to connect two sets of speakers (living room and kitchen) which sadly restricts the choice.
I don't think replacing your Denon, which originally cost around £500, with the Cambridge would be.an upgrade. More of a sideways move.
 

Entrigo

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Well, new it was £350 and the CA is £650 - but I bought it probably 5 years ago so maybe not much difference. And that was my gut feeling. Tbh don’t even really need to upgrade (just like to jazz things up every now and then ha!). It’s mostly that I came across these factory refurbs and I got tempted.

I’ll just let them slip and hold out for a proper upgrade maybe next year or so - suggestions in the £800-1k area?

On another note, on another thread, someone suggested the Focal would need a MUCH more powerful amp - they suggested 125WPC which seems insane to me. Thoughts?
 
Well, new it was £350 and the CA is £650 - but I bought it probably 5 years ago so maybe not much difference. And that was my gut feeling. Tbh don’t even really need to upgrade (just like to jazz things up every now and then ha!). It’s mostly that I came across these factory refurbs and I got tempted.

I’ll just let them slip and hold out for a proper upgrade maybe next year or so - suggestions in the £800-1k area?

On another note, on another thread, someone suggested the Focal would need a MUCH more powerful amp - they suggested 125WPC which seems insane to me. Thoughts?
You got the Denon for a very good price then....
 

Entrigo

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If you want more soundstage it could be as simple is moving the speakers to a different position/angle.

I would experiment with that first if you can and might well save yourself a few pennies. 😁
Yes, done that already 😁

Focal recommends a 2m triangle, but I find keeping 3m between speakers and 2/2.5m away from me gets even better soundstage. Sadly I have a typical Victorian narrow living room, so not much room for experimenting.

Need to sell and move elsewhere 😂

Anyway. Yeah, don’t really need to upgrade. I think I just got GAS-induced itchy hands 😬.

I am probably better off saving that money to buy more records haha
 
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Entrigo

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Right, just read the really useful article on “how to control upgradeitis” - which ‘somehow’ appeared at the top of this page

All well and good but not everyone has scores of audiophile friends to go to and listen to music on their kit - and I have not heard of many hi-fi shows. Shops yes but then again, to find one that has all the (other) components same as yours, is pretty hard. And I see not much point in listening to an amp if the source player and/or the speakers are different (changing the order of components does not change the result).

For these reasons, I ended up buying most of my components without audition. The only exception being my Focal Aria - which were anyway tested with a different amp and streamer, and actually sound better in my house than in the shop - proving my point above.

Thoughts?
 
Right, just read the really useful article on “how to control upgradeitis” - which ‘somehow’ appeared at the top of this page

All well and good but not everyone has scores of audiophile friends to go to and listen to music on their kit - and I have not heard of many hi-fi shows. Shops yes but then again, to find one that has all the (other) components same as yours, is pretty hard. And I see not much point in listening to an amp if the source player and/or the speakers are different (changing the order of components does not change the result).

For these reasons, I ended up buying most of my components without audition. The only exception being my Focal Aria - which were anyway tested with a different amp and streamer, and actually sound better in my house than in the shop - proving my point above.

Thoughts?
Getting the right speakers for your room is crucial. The other components are pretty much meaningless if the amp has required power to drive those speakers.
That said I bought my speakers purely on spec and they have moved room twice. Still brilliant mind you....
 
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Entrigo

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Getting the right speakers for your room is crucial. The other components are pretty much meaningless if the amp has required power to drive those speakers.
That said I bought my speakers purely on spec and they have moved room twice. Still brilliant mind you....
Yeah that’s why I went with the Focal Aria - they were pretty much the only front ported speakers in my desired bracket/budget range, as I have little space between them and the back wall/bookshelf. Though having listened to and really liked an older pair of Focal, I kinda wanted them in the first place anyway.

I have found only two shops within reasonable distance (one in London, one in Coventry where my wife’s family lives) which have both the Denon PMA1700 and the Focal. Asked if I can demo the Denon with those speakers. If not, I might have to go for an older/cheaper amp (Marantz 7200, which can be found for £300 and has more wpc, or Denon 1500) as spending £1300 on specs alone might be a step too far.
 
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Entrigo

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Right, little update: as I keep researching (and saving up so it won’t go on credit haha) I went for a stopgap upgrade and bought a second hand Marantz 7200. Boy that’s an improvement! Only had it two days but already thinking my next “proper” upgrade (which is looking less urgent now) is going to be another Marantz.

It also reminded me of my first impression of the Denon, coming from a Kenwood A35 (I think) - underwhelmed. I found it a bit uninspired, not very engaging. The 7200 is on another planet. More detailed and dynamic first of all, but it also has tons more engagement and fun. I was initially a little wary as I had read the bass/lower end was a bit soft, but shouldn’t have feared.

I am now a happy bunny - and, at least for the moment, with over £1000 less spent!
 

Entrigo

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Oh yeah. Starting to play records I have known by heart for twenty plus years and they sound so fresh and exciting. I think the Technics/Marantz/Focal synergy is great (using the Marantz phono stage rather than the Technics, as didn’t like it too much with the AT VMN95ML cartridge on the Denon but will try again)

At some point I would probably like a more modern/“convenient” amp in terms of digital capabilities, newer components etc but for the time being super happy. And who knows, I might go down the all-external route for streaming and digital playback.
 
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jy999

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Just throwing this in there... I had a similar path earlier in the year, and got so annoyed at having to make too many decisions in inner place that I went for an amp with no connectivity (Audiolab 6000A) and put a WiiM pro in front of it. Now I can switch out the amp without having to worry about (nor ostensibly pay for) online features in it.

The 6000A doesn't have speaker AB but I guess you could get a module to do that for you?
 
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Entrigo

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Haha you know what? My next thread/forum question was going to be exactly that. I am currently using chromecast audio for Spotify/web radio (the very rare occasions I use the latter) and wired connection for Apple Music, as CCA doesn’t support it. I was going to ask for suggestions on the best option, Wiim Pro and Bluenode 2i being the two main contenders …
 

jy999

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I have a WiiM and a WiiM pro and they work really well, without issue. The WiiM Pro also looks nice and not junky. I don't use the Pro's DAC though, just an optical connection to my integrated amp..
 
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Entrigo

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I have a WiiM and a WiiM pro and they work really well, without issue. The WiiM Pro also looks nice and not junky. I don't use the Pro's DAC though, just an optical connection to my integrated amp..
Yes! Just bought a nearly new Pro Plus. Looked like the best option.

I will have to use the internal DAC as the amp is fairly “vintage” - only realised later it wouldn’t have a built in DAC haha
 

Rodolfo

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Yes! Just bought a nearly new Pro Plus. Looked like the best option.

I will have to use the internal DAC as the amp is fairly “vintage” - only realised later it wouldn’t have a built in DAC haha
Congrats, but if you're still talking about your Denon PMA-800NE, I think you're wrong --although I've only seen the one released in the US. If yours has digital inputs, it wouldn't be able to output anything without.
 

Entrigo

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I have a WiiM and a WiiM pro and they work really well, without issue. The WiiM Pro also looks nice and not junky. I don't use the Pro's DAC though, just an optical connection to my integrated amp..
My preloved Marantz doesn’t have a DAC or optical connector, so for the moment tied to wPro DAC. But from what I gather, it’s decent enough.
 

robdmarsh

Well-known member
Hi wise forum-dwellers !

In the process of upgrading my setup.

Upgraded speakers from Wharfedale Diamond 9 to Focal Aria 906 last year.

Got my new TT - Technics SL1500C to replace a Audio Technica AT-LP 5.

So, I am now wondering whether I should upgrade amp.

I currently have a Denon PMA-800NE which I like well enough but I am wondering if I would get the best out of the TT and speakers with another amp - found a couple of Cambridge Audio CXA61 for around £400.

As I said, I like the Denon and its warmth, but wouldn’t mind a little more soundstage.

How does the CA compare? And what about sound signature? Read somewhere that it’s lively and fun but somewhere else that, coupled with the Focal (which are quite neutral) not as much.

So, is it a clear upgrade or should I hold out (say until Xmas) and go for something better? If so, suggestions (keeping in mind the preference for engaging and warm sound over neutral)?

Other preferences: Bluetooth, DAC, and would need to connect two sets of speakers (living room and kitchen) which sadly restricts the choice.
Hi I've just seen this so maybe you've moved on but .... in my humble opinion the Denon pma 800ne is a bit of a budget gem. It is unfussy, warm sounding without being woolly, has pretty decent power and current, offers decent bass and works well with a range of speakers even quite low sensitivity ones. I have tried a few other well-known amps, some at two and a half times the price of the Denon and none sounded as musical as the Denon (I know the "m" word gets a lot of people backs up but come on, we know what it means: it's when you just find yourself enjoying the music and not worrying about specs and so on. If you like the Denon sound, I'd advise you to look out for a used pma 1600ne or higher end Marantz amp.
 
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Entrigo

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Hi I've just seen this so maybe you've moved on but .... in my humble opinion the Denon pma 800ne is a bit of a budget gem. It is unfussy, warm sounding without being woolly, has pretty decent power and current, offers decent bass and works well with a range of speakers even quite low sensitivity ones. I have tried a few other well-known amps, some at two and a half times the price of the Denon and none sounded as musical as the Denon (I know the "m" word gets a lot of people backs up but come on, we know what it means: it's when you just find yourself enjoying the music and not worrying about specs and so on. If you like the Denon sound, I'd advise you to look out for a used pma 1600ne or higher end Marantz amp.
Hi Rob - I have indeed. Went for a “stopgap” upgrade until I further researched and bought a used Marantz 7200. Extremely pleased with it, spades better than the Denon (which I can now admit I never really liked).

Like the 7200 so much so that I think my next proper upgrade will be another Marantz.
 

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