What should I do about my Hi Fi before I am too old?

admin_exported

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I listen to classical music at realistic volumes from CD (Rotel RCD-1070, purchased in 2002) and FM tuner (Arcam Delta 80 purchased in 1989) fed through a Rotel RA-1070 integrated amp, purchased in 2002) to TDL Studio 0.5 speakers (purchased in1993). In my late 70s I gain a lot of pleasure from my music and wonder what I need to do to improve my sound before my ears become too ancient to hear properly!

My TDLs have been wonderful, and I think they still are but I suspect the speakers are really the area where I could improve. Hi-Fi shops where you can audition equipment do not exist as frequently now as they did. Also there seems to be a reluctance to allow you to have speakers home on a sale or return basis (that is how I purchased the TDLs). Living in a small town 50 miles from any decent sized city I would appreciate some guidance/advice on what I should consider doing. As you will see I tend to buy for the long term but realise that is getting shorter as I age!

Any suggestions will be seriously considered.

Thanks

Jimiker
 

CnoEvil

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Jimiker, it's great to have you on board.

Could you give an idea of your budget and the size of your room?

I believe your speakers are small transmission line floorstanders with a pleasant neutral sound....so for Classical I would be suggesting you look at Proac or PMC (both transmission line), as well as Spendor.

If you are happy with standmounts, that brings in makes like Harbeth and Sonus Faber.

Cno
 
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Anonymous

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I'd be reluctant to get shot of the speakers if all you have heard them from is a regular CD player and a ordinary (but better made than usual) 100W transistor amp.

Especially if you like classical music.

The issue is 'The First Watt', and the usual grainy harsh sound of a CD player. I would suggest buying a decent source plus a good quality DAC in there somewhere - or perhaps a top-flite Meridian player. This is perhaps the main issue I see in your setup. The Beresford DAC is Ok but I'd go for the Behringer UltraMatch as I know there is a very good DAC in there (plus you also get the upsampling).

Then find a decent Class A or Tube amp. Or perhaps a Class A tube amp - although a few of those are a bit gutless TBH, and may make your system sound too boomy. In classical you spend a fair bit of time listening to stuff < 1W in power, so you need an amp that sounds sweet at that power level, hence Class A or Tube.

With your new sound I'd now see if you still want to change the speakers, as you will at least be auditioning them at their best.
 
It is a while since I heard the TDL range, but unless they are actually faulty, I'm sure your source and possibly amp should be the first to reconsider.

Sure, new speakers will have a different 'flavour' or colour, but they will be limited by the signal they receive. That is doubtless pretty sound, but is probably lacking some of the detail and subtlety locked in those CDs that better components will reveal.

Being practical, and to test what could be improved, you might be able to take your speakers to a decent dealer, by arrangement, to hear them on their various source components, and/or alongside other speakers of suitable size and price. That would also confirm how much hearing acuity you still possess, and highlight if anything were fundamentally wrong with the TDLs. Some still do home loans, though positioning and set-up cannot be overlooked.

I'd also suggest a thorough 'spring clean' before anything else, at a minimum unplugging and replugging everything, but maybe including remaking speaker connections, and maybe trying a few new cables (sale of return). That could save you a packet! If your system has been in situ almost 10 years it will definitely benefit.

Let us know what you decide.
 

amcluesent

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I'd say the Rotel amp/cd isn't doing the speakers justice, try to track down an Audio Analogue PucciniPaganini pair.

The TDL Studio 0.5 are likely to have a distinctive sound, swapping those would mean rethinking everything, like a Naim 5iCD5i and Neat Elite SX
 

CnoEvil

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I agree with all of the above posters, and was going in gently to suss out budget and an inclination for a radical overhall.....but what the hell, now the cat's out of the bag I think decent dac with a Class A amp would be the ideal (and a change of speakers, if there is enough left over :rockout: ). All we can do is wait and see what the OP wants to do. :)
 
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Anonymous

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My suggestion would be similar to others. Class A amp (or at least class-a biased), new CD player to compliment the amp. If you like the sound of old TDL's maybe get a set if IMF TLS50's if you can find a pair. Gorgeously smooth sounding transmission lines.

As others say, I'd upgrade the Amp, then the CD Player then the Speakers.
 

matthewpiano

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I would be tempted to try the XTZ Class A-100 D3 integrated amp, which you can buy from Audio Sanctum in the UK. When you buy XTZ gear you get 30 days in which you can return it for a refund should it not be right for you, and the amp has had some excellent reviews. Maybe it is even worth trying the 100-II CD player with it - they do a package combining both for £920.
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks everyone - I have been amazed by the quick and helpful responses. Must obviously consider Class A amp (whatever that is) and DACs amongst other things. As far as budget is concerned up to £1K would be OK, from £1K to £2K my wallet would increasingly resist and I suspect over £2K would give a no-no reaction.

I always find the "what is your budget?" question a bit cart before horse. I tend to think if I find something that is right for me I will sort my finances to suit. This applies to cameras, cars, domestic apliances etc etc as well as Hi Fi.

Have some grand-parenting to do over the next week or so but please keep commenting. I will do some serious research towards end of August and report on my findings/decision.

Once again - thankyou everybody.

Jimiker
 

chebby

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If everything is in tip-top condition, I don't see why anything should need replacing.

Your speaker's tweeters should be at the optimum height (level with ears) so that might need adressing depending on where/how high you sit when listening.

TDL made some revised plinths/stands with 'pillar spikes' to raise the height and allow up to 15 degrees tilt-back to address the sensitivity of the tweeter to vertical dispersion. These were made in 1991 so your Studio 0.5s should have them as you bought them in 1993.

(Source: Gramophone review January 1991.)

Another 'detail' (actually terribly important) is whether you have a good roof-mounted FM aerial.

FM is likely to continue for at least 4 - 5 years, so getting a decent aerial professionally installed will be money well-spent if your current one is sub-optimal. (Looking at £150 - £200 if a new mast and cabling is installed too.)
 

CnoEvil

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An idea of your budget was necessary to make suggestions in the right ball park......you can spend £5k without blinking in this hobby.

A Class A amp sounds wonderful, but uses a lot more power as it's always drawing max power from the mains, even at low volumes. It also runs very hot (everything has its price).

Hear are some different suggestions at varying prices:

1. Peachtree Nova - Smooth sounding 80W amp with a decent built in DAC. It's on sale at www.sevenoakssoundandvision.co.uk for £700 (usually £1099). Keep Rotel CDP and take digital coax cable from it to the Peachtree. Budget left over for some speakers if necessary.

2. Own CDP + Rega dac (£499) + Sugden Mystro Amp(£1255) or Pure Sound A30 (£1399) + Own Speakers.

3. Own CDP + Arcam rdac (£299) + Sugden A21 al Amp (£1649) + Own Speakers

4. Own CDP + Own Amp + New Speakers*.

5. Sugden Mystro CDP (£1349) + P'tree Nova (£700) + Own Speakers

*Some speakers:

a) Spendor A3 (£1295); A5(£1495); A6 (£1995)

b) Proac Studio 140 (£1690)

c) PMC GB1i (£1675)

d) Dynaudio DM 3/7 (£1299)

I've gone for small floorstanders, but all those Cos do great standmounts (cheaper). It's probably not worth spending a lot more than £1k on speakers if keeping your own kit.

You can also do this in gradual steps over time.

If I was to choose, it would probably be with No.2 with the Pure Sound A30(Tube Amp) or No.3 (Sugden Class A amp). No.1 is best VFM

Cno
 
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Anonymous

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And don't forget the Musical Fidelity class A stuff, and also the Usher R1.5 - good enough to see off any solid state competition I've heard.

The main thing is to get away from crossover and the upper harmonic distortion of a regular transistor amp, and to get yourself a decent upsampling DAC so CDs become listenable again, instead of the un-naturaly coarse, grainy and ear searing sound so popular today.

Remember 'incisive and Detailed' is often a kind way of saying 'full of annoying harmonic and intermodulation distortion, I was forced to turn it down'.
 

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