What Next?

robbo400

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2012
14
0
18,520
Just joined today and am no expert so apologies if this is a long and stupid question.

For the last 10 years or so, I've been listening to a Cambridge Audio system: A1/CD5/T500. Firstly, through Wharfdale 7 diamond 1 standmounts and, for the last 6 years in a bigger room, through Jamo E660 floorstanders. Although an old and budget system, I've really enjoyed it and still remember the massive jump in sound quality from the old 90s Kenwood midi system I had beforehand.

I'm looking to upgrade (but only if I find something that sounds significantly better to my ears). From reading magazine articles, I've drawn up a list of:

1. Primare I22/CD22/T23;

2. Naim 5i/CD5i, Arcam FMJ T32;

3. Astin Trew AT3500+ CD/ AT 2000+ amp, Arcam T32

4. Exposure 2010S2 Amp & CD with Arcam T32

5. Creek Destiny 2 Amp and CD with Arcam T32

6. Sugden Mystro CD and Amp with the T32.

I'd upgrade to the next level in the range of any of these brands and add pieces one by one as I can afford it if the sound makes it worthwhile. I'm also looking to add speakers (need to be close to the wall) and am keen to hear Spendor, Neat, Focal, Dali and Tannoy.

At a later stage, I'll also want to add a phono stage/record player. And , no doubt, I'll eventually join the computer age with a streaming product after that.

I listen to pop, soul, ska and increasingly jazz in a room which is about 6 x 4 metres and 2.8 metres high - wooden floors, french windows and very few soft furnshings. The sound I want is probably a warm one. I also listen at low volume most of the time so want something that doesn't need to be turned loud to get good quality sound. One of my friends had a great system in the late 70s (Sansui SR636 turntable, TA500 Integrated Amp/Tuner, Sansui floorstanders with pitch control) and that sound is still probably (to my ears) the best I've heard.

Today I went to demo Naim but the whole experience was more like a job interview. Firstly I was told to forget the 5i series and integrated amps. I was auditioned CD5XS, NAC152, NAP155 through ProAc D40s instead. Then I was told that the CDs I'd brought were incompatible with high-end audio (Beatles, Stan Getz, Style Council, JTQ, Stranglers, Adelle, Oasis - could you get more mainstream?) and heard an "audiophile" disc. The detail was fantastic but it was so unmusical - I would have got more melody out of a transistor radio - don't know if it was the music, the system or my ears (as I was pretty much told!) just don't appreciate what higher end audio does.

Any advice on my shortlist of systems, others I should consider, the order to replace things and a more successful way of auditioning?

Many thanks.
 

Crocodile

New member
Jan 15, 2009
38
0
0
robbo400 said:
Today I went to demo Naim but the whole experience was more like a job interview. Firstly I was told to forget the 5i series and integrated amps. I was auditioned CD5XS, NAC152, NAP155 through ProAc D40s instead. Then I was told that the CDs I'd brought were incompatible with high-end audio (Beatles, Stan Getz, Style Council, JTQ, Stranglers, Adelle, Oasis - could you get more mainstream?) and heard an "audiophile" disc. The detail was fantastic but it was so unmusical - I would have got more melody out of a transistor radio - don't know if it was the music, the system or my ears (as I was pretty much told!) just don't appreciate what higher end audio does.
Well the first thing you need to do is find another dealer!

Although it's true to say that the further up the the scale you go, the more revealing of bad recordings the equipment becomes. But anyone who tells you that your choice of music isn't good enough & insists you listen to their choice instead sounds like a grad A pillock!

My suggestion would be to firstly set a budget. Then start phoning/emailing dealers with YOUR requirements for a system but only give them half the budget you're willing to spend. You'll soon get a feel for when someone is actually listening to you & your requirements & then you can go & listen to their suggestions. When you've heard a few combinations & got a feel for what you like/dislike, you can then bring the rest of the budget into play. Either by adding components if you really like the base system or asking what they can do if you can push the budget a little.

Then make sure that you can secure a home demo/trial. Because how it sounds in the demo room may be significantly different to how it sounds in your room.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Where about do you live? I think that you need a good dealer for help. I know some up north- no ideas darn sarff.ask a hundred forum members your questions and you'll get a hundred different answers.

What is total budget?
 

amcluesent

New member
Mar 8, 2009
25
0
0
>The sound I want is probably a warm one.<

I'd not defer the move to streamimg. What about the all-in-one Arcam Solo Neo and Monitor Audio Silver RX6 which you ought to be able to get as a bundle around the £1750 mark.
 

paradiziac

New member
Jan 8, 2011
17
0
0
Hi and welcome!

I have the Mystro amp and I'm very happy with it. It doesn't do anything flashy, just makes music--sounds good with any kind of music. Low volume performance is very good and it has a decent built-in phono stage. It's a 50W with plenty of current and works great with a wide range of speakers. I've heard it with Neat and Dali and can't see why it wouldn't be fine with any of the other speakers on your list--basically the amp will show you the character of the speaker.
 

Helmut80

New member
Jan 8, 2011
27
1
0
I am afraid your dealer of choice lived up to the Naim dealer stereotype. Find a different dealer. Naim integrateds can sound great. And don't let anyone tell you what music to bring. Not everyone wants to snooze off to a perfectly mastered Diana Krall cd (no offence anyone).
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
Hi Robbo, and welcome to the forum.

That's a good looking list of very different sounding brands...so imo, in order to get a handle where to start, you need to fully understand the type of sound you're looking for, which as you say, may well be warm; but how warm?......this can only be determined by auditioning.

Brands like Naim, Exposure, Linn (except the DS), Cambridge Audio and Cyrus are very revealing, detailed and analytical....often giving a more forward presentation, with some sounding a bit cold.

Brands like Sugden, Primare, Creek, Pathos, Audio Analogue, Unison Research, Lavardin and Electrocompaniet, are smoother and more organic....some would say more musical.

The same applies with speakers - Triangle, Focal, ATC (more neutral) vs Spendor, Sonus Faber, Opera, Proac and Dynaudio (slightly warmer and darker).

These can be mixed and matched to get the sound you want, but the only way to get a feel, is to start trying them out.

Amps fall into 3 types - Solid State, Valve and Hybrid, all of which should be tried before making a choice. Then within these types, amps mostly fall into Class A/AB/D; again it helps if you try something from each, as they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Sorry if I'm going on a bit (one of my faults), but imo, it all helps make the correct choice.

I believe a system should make nearly all music enjoyable. It is certainly not the case that a "good system" always has to make bad recordings sound terrible....just listen to Pathos or Lavardin.

I think the future is going down the streaming route, so I wouldn't spend too much on a CDP.

Good Luck with your search

Cno
 

robbo400

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2012
14
0
18,520
Thanks everyone for the very helpful replies. It sounds like it will take some time auditioning before I make a choice which actually sounds like it will be fun.

To answer some of your questions, I'm in the London area and have a max. budget of £4.5k at the moment - I'm neither in a hurry to throw it away nor to limit myself to that as I can always replace/upgrade piece-meal over time once/if I find the right equipment/sound for me.

I'll also look more into streaming as suggested although I'm really looking forward to getting back into vinyl too after 20 odd years with cassettes and CDs.

Any recommendations of friendly + helpful dealers in West London area would also be great. The guy I saw today was pretty rude and obnoxious. Still, on the way out I couldn't resist tapping my Beatles Revolver CD and saying " now you come to mention it, this is a very rare CD in limited production - you'll not see many around. It must be because it is so unsuitable for most hifi. I'm going to write to the band and suggest they change their style if they want to make it big :) ." I don't think he even got the sarcasm!

I'll keep you updated when I find a sound/combination I like but please let me have any ideas. I don't have anywhere near the same amount of knowledge as you guys. Thanks.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
robbo400 said:
I'll keep you updated when I find a sound/combination I like but please let me have any ideas. I don't have anywhere near the same amount of knowledge as you guys. Thanks.
You will get a dazzling array of different suggestions which represent other peoples' taste, so it's vital trust your own ears.

If it was my £4.5k, I would have something like the following:

Linn Sneaky (+ NAS) + Sugden A21SE/Al + Proac Tablette Anniversary / Spendor A5 / PMC Twenty 21 / Kef R500.

.....it's a start I suppose. :)
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
2,027
13
19,695
robbo400 said:
Any recommendations of friendly + helpful dealers in West London area would also be great.
Come dahn sarf west and try Unilet in New Malden and Infidelity in Hampton Wick. I've always found both of them patient and helpful, though prefer Unilet's variety of stock if I'm honest. And Infidelity sometimes foist lute music on you :-D

robbo400 said:
The guy I saw today was pretty rude and obnoxious.
I would suggest you name and shame, but I'd end up having to remove it ;-)

I am presuming it was neither of the two stores I mentioned, since that would be...out of character.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
560
32
18,920
You should name and shame the same way we should name and praise. A good system will make old CDs sound fabulous, that's the whole point of a good one. A good dealer will encourage you to bring your own music, even your own source if its a pc. I've never had any issues with any of the audio T / sevenoaks branches other than the fact none will sell both Naim and Roksan (must be a franchise to manufacturer relationship issue?)
 

paradiziac

New member
Jan 8, 2011
17
0
0
I reckon you should get over to Brussels/Antwerp for a weekend and join Acalex and Roby from this forum in their adventures in hi-end audio...you might end up upping your budget though! ;)
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
paradiziac said:
I reckon you should get over to Brussels/Antwerp for a weekend and join Acalex and Roby from this forum in their adventures in hi-end audio...you might end up upping your budget though! ;)
The "Brussels Massive" is growing by the week. 8)
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
330
19,270
Any dealer who more or less suggests that you should dis-regard a whole swathe of music in order to get the best out of a system should be left to listen to their bland hi-fi show demo discs in private whilst you seek out a dealer who is more willing to help you put together a system which enhances your musical enjoyment, in the music that you want to listen to.

The most important thing when considering a financial outlay of this order is to audition a wide range of equipment to find what suits you and your music best. At this level I would personally be looking at the Sugden Mystro CD and amp with some Focal speakers or some decent Cyrus kit with Vienna Acoustics speakers - quite different sounding systems but both with incredible strengths and very persuasive musicality. I'd also be considering the Creek Destiny 2 - a brilliant amplifier with a very fluid presentation and beautifully built.
 

paradiziac

New member
Jan 8, 2011
17
0
0
robbo400 said:
I'll also look more into streaming as suggested although I'm really looking forward to getting back into vinyl too after 20 odd years with cassettes and CDs.
At least you could look at CD players that can also accept a digital input and thus be used as a DAC, then you can add sources like a PC/Mac mini (via USB converter for best quality), Squeezebox, Digital iPod dock etc.

I think streaming + vinyl is a nice setup--main problem is if you have to compromize on one or both of the sources--and for me, I think £20 a pop is too much for most albums, especially when the quality is not guaranteed, some vinyl pressings are very good and others not.
 

robbo400

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2012
14
0
18,520
Thanks everyone for yet more excellent advice.

I've spent most of today trying to research streaming etc. I know absolutely nothing about the "new" digital side of audio but it does seem that this is the way things are going. I am a real technophobe and have only my work laptop with which I access the internet through a data card when at home - no home pc, no internet, no wi-fi, no iPod/pad, and 2 telephone sockets in the house. I chatted to a neighbour who told me his kids are very frustrated because their iPads only work in certain rooms, such is the poor level of quality in wifi in our area of London.

I started off looking at CnoEvil's recommendation (thanks for 2 fantastically informative emails!) of the Linn Sneaky but realised I'd have to be pretty IT literate to make this work. Then, I saw the Olive HD3 & 4 and thought this was exactly what I needed - a hard drive for recording CDs. Unfortunately, many of the user reviews lead me to conclude it's unreliable.

Is there a high quality alternative? If not, would everybody agree that I should move into the 21st century with an i-Pad and then look at the Linn Sneaky and other alternatives? My daughter is fast approaching the age when she'll want an i-Pad so this may be a sensible route.

thx.
 

robbo400

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2012
14
0
18,520
Thanks everyone for yet more excellent advice.

I've spent most of today trying to research streaming etc. I know absolutely nothing about the "new" digital side of audio but it does seem that this is the way things are going. I am a real technophobe and have only my work laptop with which I access the internet through a data card when at home - no home pc, no internet, no wi-fi, no iPod/pad, and 2 telephone sockets in the house. I chatted to a neighbour who told me his kids are very frustrated because their iPads only work in certain rooms, such is the poor level of quality in wifi in our area of London.

I started off looking at CnoEvil's recommendation (thanks for 2 fantastically informative emails!) of the Linn Sneaky but realised I'd have to be pretty IT literate to make this work. Then, I saw the Olive HD3 & 4 and thought this was exactly what I needed - a hard drive for recording CDs. Unfortunately, many of the user reviews lead me to conclude it's unreliable.

Is there a high quality alternative? If not, would everybody agree that I should move into the 21st century with an i-Pad and then look at the Linn Sneaky and other alternatives? My daughter is fast approaching the age when she'll want an i-Pad so this may be a sensible route.

thx.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
robbo400 said:
I started off looking at CnoEvil's recommendation (thanks for 2 fantastically informative emails!) of the Linn Sneaky but realised I'd have to be pretty IT literate to make this work.
Linn sell their DSs through their dealers, so that they are there to hold your hand through the set up process.

Like you, I'm hopeless with computers and networks, so I went for a DS with a RipNas, which rips, stores and catalogues your collection. It certainly not the cheapest solution, but it is one of the handiest.

My Linn dealer set the whole thing up and showed me how to use it (without further charge). I would recommend you call in to your nearest dealer and ask him to go through it with you.

The other crowd who are very helpful and a mine of information, are here:
https://www.ripcaster.co.uk/?gclid=CIy1-ry6ma4CFWIntAodizYEJA

Naim (like Olive) do an all in one solution, but you need to see if you like the way it sounds.
 

acalex

New member
Sep 13, 2011
73
0
0
paradiziac said:
I reckon you should get over to Brussels/Antwerp for a weekend and join Acalex and Roby from this forum in their adventures in hi-end audio...you might end up upping your budget though! ;)
Ahah, yes. If you wanna come for a we you are more than welcome ;)! If you like a wrm sound I might have a perfect combo to show you! :dance:
 

acalex

New member
Sep 13, 2011
73
0
0
CnoEvil said:
paradiziac said:
I reckon you should get over to Brussels/Antwerp for a weekend and join Acalex and Roby from this forum in their adventures in hi-end audio...you might end up upping your budget though! ;)
The "Brussels Massive" is growing by the week. 8)
Maybe you could join us the first Saturday of March ;)
 

rjb70stoke

Well-known member
Mar 25, 2010
30
0
18,540
If you have no PC, no Internet etc. I wouldn't worry yourself too much with streaming.

I doubt anybody who uses any of the plethora of systems available today can honestly say hand on heart that they've never had an IP Address problem, wifi dropout, or buffer issue etc. For those of us fortunate to understand and be able to resolve such issues, streaming and computer based music is fantastic for discovering new music, storing large libraries at very high quality and freeing our music from the confines of our living room.

If you don't understand, stick to the black or silver discs, ultimately they will give the same pleasure with a fraction of the fuss.
 

acalex

New member
Sep 13, 2011
73
0
0
As you I also started slowly slowly in this world and thanks to the great advises I found here I was able to make a great short-list of beautiful amps/speakers to try. You really should go around and demo as much as you can to understand the type of sound/presentation you are looking for! Then you can try shortlisting the amps which are closer to the sound you like.

Here you will find for sure a lot of great advices...just take your time and do not rush as I think with your budget you can end-up with a beautiful and musical system! First of all try to find a shop where you feel "at home" and where the people will take care of you...this is absolutely important! You must have fun when you go demoing...and have somebody experienced next to you who will point you into the right direction!

London-Brussels is not that far btw ;)
 

robbo400

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2012
14
0
18,520
I'm tempted to join the Brussels Soul Patrol !!

Isn't there a show in Bristol too? Traffic nowadays on the M4 leads me to believe Hammersmith - Belgium will be a quicker journey :grin:

Incidentally, just been round a friend's who played me some Elvis Sun recordings on vinyl - absolutely fantastic. Mystery Train - a track I've heard for many years but never really thought about - is permanently in my head. Felt like I was in the Deep South in the 50s lol.

CnoEvil- I'll try a Linn dealer as you suggest and will also audition the Olive.

Best to all!
 

acalex

New member
Sep 13, 2011
73
0
0
robbo400 said:
I'm tempted to join the Brussels Soul Patrol !!

Isn't there a show in Bristol too? Traffic nowadays on the M4 leads me to believe Hammersmith - Belgium will be a quicker journey :grin:

Incidentally, just been round a friend's who played me some Elvis Sun recordings on vinyl - absolutely fantastic. Mystery Train - a track I've heard for many years but never really thought about - is permanently in my head. Felt like I was in the Deep South in the 50s lol.

CnoEvil- I'll try a Linn dealer as you suggest and will also audition the Olive.

Best to all!
The Leann Sneaky is a must hear. O course the Majick (next step) is an obvious step-up but at twice the price. If you like the warm sound you should maybe try some tube amps...if matched with the right speakers and source is pure emotion. I am pointing in that direction and building my system for a life time also.

You might find interesting the thread on my discoveries...

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/jadis-love-at-first-sight

If you really want to come to Brussels you are more than welcome. I found the perfect dealer....very knowledgeable, helpful and honest ;)
 

acalex

New member
Sep 13, 2011
73
0
0
Regarding the streaming route...I strongly encourage you to go down this path as this will be the future. To get the best out of it you should be able to set-up a decent home network (not necessarily wireless) as you might want to use a NAS connected to the router to store all your music and the streamer (also connected to the router) able to stream from NAS and from internet at the same time. On the palm of your hand you can have all your local music plus all internet radio + music on demand (if you get for example a spotify premium account). Almost all streming devices have great and free iphone/ipad/android application to control the streamer trough your ordinary mobile.

As usual, if you are just starting and decide to atke the streaming path, make sure you have a reliable internet connection at home and start with inexpensive solutions like Sonos or Squeezebox touch. If you want any specific advice on streaming you might want to open a separate thread for that!
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS