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Which Speaker

OliverBen5672

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2021
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Hi, I am about to get my first set of speakers but not too sure what’s the best out of these. It will be used for listening to music (mostly indie/rock) from vinyl. I’m looking second hand to get the best value for money and these are my options:
Kef Q950
Monitor Audio Silver 10
Monitor Audio Gold Reference 20
So what are your thoughts? I have to move fairly quickly due to ebay listings ending soon. I’ve heard good things about all of these, atm I am leaning to either the Kef as its going for a very good price, or one of the monitor audio as a lot of people have recommended them (though I’m not sure which is better out of the two). Alternatively I could buy a Dali Oberon 5 from new. Any advice?
 

OliverBen5672

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2021
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Hi, what's the rest of your system? And most importantly how big is your room?
Hi,
The turntable will be a rega planar 3 with elys 2 cartridge and the amp is a Yamaha as501.
The room is a decent size although I don't have exact measurements, I am also moving fairly soon into a slightly smaller space which I feel may slightly hamper the speakers but not to an extent where its affecting audio quality too badly.
 

muljao

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Jul 18, 2016
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As said, what else and how big. It may be good value second hand, but speakers should last year's so new is nice. I feel there's nostalgia with speakers that makes the newer ones often pushed to the side.

I've owned loads of speakers and my few pairs of favourites are cheap and cheerful, it's very hard to get good advice on speaker
 

muljao

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Jul 18, 2016
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Just get the Dali's unless you have a particular type. Most of us are happy with a good musical solid sound. My second recommendation would be a q acoustics 3030i( which I've not heard but according to everything I read is a more muscle version of the 3020 which I have)
 

OliverBen5672

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2021
31
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Yeah I've also heard good things about the q acoustics 3000i range although based on what I've read the Dali's are slightly better. It is tempting to buy new as it is nice to know they're new and to get to have them straight out of the box but at the same time i want to get the most out of my budget so was wondering if the others I mentioned would give a better sound at the same price, at the cost of them being second hand.
 

muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
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You see it's hard to say. I bought monitor audio silver 100s. They were close on 1000 euro when I got them. I have q Acoustics 2020i that cost 120 when I bought them. The MA were bigger, better soundstage, could go louder, were great. I prefer the q Acoustics, sold the MAs and kept the q ones.

I've never really heard a recommended (user that is) speaker that wasn't good. If you are very hifi and looking for a certain sound then maybe you need to research a lot. A yamaha as501 is a solid straight fwd amp, detailed and musical but not too critical or revealing. It's easy enough to get speakers that will sound good here, the more run of the mill models likely suiting better, think mission rather than rogers
 

OliverBen5672

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2021
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Yeah its hard as all of the speakers seem to be highly recommended, my decision would be a lot easier if half of them had awful reviews.
The guy who's selling the MA GR20 has said I can go and demo them which I'd like to do but the KEF Q950 listing would end before then so I would probably miss out on these although I imagine I could message and ask him if they're still available as currently no-ones bid on it.
I am leaning to the MA GR20 as I can listen to them first and see if I like, although I have no frame of reference for what sounds good/bad, I'll just have to see if I like them. They also look very cool imo and are the cheapest of the three I listed. However, they are the oldest (around 2005 I believe) which does give them a cool vintage feel but I worry about if there more likely to break, or if the newer MA/KEF I mentioned would produce a better sound.
 

matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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As I've found to my cost, speaker/room interaction is one of the most significant contributors to how a system sounds. Those are big speakers you are considering, and will need to be well out from the rear wall and any corners to avoid bass boom. You'll also want your listening position to be a large distance away from the speakers for the sound to make any sense and to be comfortable for longer listening sessions. For large floorstanders you need to account for as much as 50-70cm as a minimum from the rear wall/side walls, and at least 2m minimum to you listening position.

I also have reservations about your amplifier's ability to control any of those speakers. It's an OK budget amp, but nothing more.
 
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OliverBen5672

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Feb 27, 2021
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I'm fairly confident in the room being large enough, I may have to move a few bits around to create some space but I don't think it will hamper them too much. I know the amp will be the limiting component in this build, but one part always will be. It's supposed to be really good for the money and I've got to start somewhere although if all goes well I can upgrade later on. I really am just struggling to decide which of these speakers is the best buy. The two im torn between is the KEF Q950 and the MA GR20. My main reservation about the GR20 is its age, will it cause it to break soon? and would a newer speaker like the KEF Q950 outperform it?
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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As I've found to my cost, speaker/room interaction is one of the most significant contributors to how a system sounds. Those are big speakers you are considering, and will need to be well out from the rear wall and any corners to avoid bass boom. You'll also want your listening position to be a large distance away from the speakers for the sound to make any sense and to be comfortable for longer listening sessions. For large floorstanders you need to account for as much as 50-70cm as a minimum from the rear wall/side walls, and at least 2m minimum to you listening position.

I also have reservations about your amplifier's ability to control any of those speakers. It's an OK budget amp, but nothing more.
Clearly this is important, but 2-3 summers ago a pensioner in my village gave me a demo of his kit, and he had the Yamaha AS 500 powering a pair of Kef R300s. Sounded mightily fine to me. What I don't know is how the AS 500 compares to the OP's AS 501
 

Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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I am also moving fairly soon into a slightly smaller space which I feel may slightly hamper the speakers but not to an extent where its affecting audio quality too badly.
I would strongly suggest you wait until you have moved and know exactly where you will be able to position everything. Don't worry about Ebay listings ending soon, there will always be another.
 
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insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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KEF would be at the bottom of my list OP. They're the most likely to cause you grief both in room and matching to your amp. But I've not heard that model so I'm speculating here.

I'm familiar with the other two models and Gold's would be preferred if you have the room. Should be the best bang for buck on your list and depending on room and/or listener best speaker on your list.

Regarding concerns of age. My main hi-fi speakers are over 30 years old and still going strong. As long as you buy quality form a careful owner you should be ok.
 
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matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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Clearly this is important, but 2-3 summers ago a pensioner in my village gave me a demo of his kit, and he had the Yamaha AS 500 powering a pair of Kef R300s. Sounded mightily fine to me. What I don't know is how the AS 500 compares to the OP's AS 501
The AS-500 and AS-501 are very similar amps. I've had both, and actually preferred the 500 (slightly more organic sounding, though that may just have been my mood/ears at the time).

They're both very good budget amps, and great value for money, and as always it comes down to what each listener is looking for. They will certainly be able to drive almost any speaker, but in my experience they're not going to get the very best out of a higher quality one. There are different views on this of course, and some speaker designers claim that beyond having the current to power a speaker, the amplifier doesn't make a difference.
 
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plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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The AS-500 and AS-501 are very similar amps. I've had both, and actually preferred the 500 (slightly more organic sounding, though that may just have been my mood/ears at the time).

They're both very good budget amps, and great value for money, and as always it comes down to what each listener is looking for. They will certainly be able to drive almost any speaker, but in my experience they're not going to get the very best out of a higher quality one. There are different views on this of course, and some speaker designers claim that beyond having the current to power a speaker, the amplifier doesn't make a difference.
That was my hunch but wasn't sure. Have to say for a £300 and something pounds amp it was very good.

Think any amp will have it's limits so MA Golds would be pushing the envelope. As the OP mentioned Kefs they could work well, but as we know with hi-fi it's never that cut and dried.

Have to say when I had the AS 2100 on home demo a few years ago, tonally, it's very different from the AS 300.
 

OliverBen5672

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2021
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A lot of people seem to think the amp is really good for its price which is nice to see. The one thing I have noticed is it doesn't have Bluetooth, there used to be the yamaha yba-11 but that is no longer sold and the second hand ones are expensive.
I'd like to have the option of Bluetooth so I can stream music from my phone. I still intend to mostly play vinyl but my collection is incredibly small at the moment so I will be limited unless I can use Bluetooth as an input.
Does anyone have any recommendations for budget Bluetooth adaptors (or DACs that have a Bluetooth/streaming option)?
I dont have a ton of money to spend as I've prioritised speakers/turntable/amp in my budget, it doesn't need to be the best one on the market, but similarly to the amp do its job well at its price point.
 

ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
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I had some GR20's 10 years ago and they were not the easiest speakers to get the best from. They are a 3 way with the midrange having higher impedence than the bass driver. This gave them a nice flat response curve but they absolutely devoured energy. I drove them with a Quad 606 power amplifier and they were sweet but my goodness they would get the amp hot if i drove them hard. I moved to a stack of cyrus gear for home cinema (Cyrus AV8, Cyrus power mono x 5 Cyrus PSX x 6) and while good never really gave their best with the Cyrus kit.
You will get some kind of sound out of them with your Yamaha AS-500 but you wont be doing them justice. They need far more current than the Yamaha can supply and if you wind them up your amplifier will start clipping and thats when damage is done to the speakers.
 
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OliverBen5672

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Feb 27, 2021
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That worries me, I don't want to damage the speakers at all. A lot of other people on here have said the Yamaha as501 is a capable budget amp but will limit the sound a bit which I can live with and upgrade later on. However I don't want it to produce bad sound or worse damage the speakers. I don't intend to blare music at max volume either. The guy who currently owns them uses a marantz pm6007 which isn't too different to the Yamaha and he says it holds up fine, he also had the speakers checked over by a dealer who cleaned them up a bit but said they were in near perfect condition so clearly that amp hasn't caused too many problems.
 

ProgDr

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
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That worries me, I don't want to damage the speakers at all. A lot of other people on here have said the Yamaha as501 is a capable budget amp but will limit the sound a bit which I can live with and upgrade later on. However I don't want it to produce bad sound or worse damage the speakers. I don't intend to blare music at max volume either. The guy who currently owns them uses a marantz pm6007 which isn't too different to the Yamaha and he says it holds up fine, he also had the speakers checked over by a dealer who cleaned them up a bit but said they were in near perfect condition so clearly that amp hasn't caused too many problems.
They are a great speaker if you are going to swap your amp in the not too distant future and keep the volume down for now.
While i dont currently own one, i have been listening to the new Musical Fidelity M3Si and a couple of other high current amplifiers (dont concentrate too much on wattage its amps the GR20's love because of the low impedence of the bass driver) and this would probably make them sing lovely. Alternatively you can pick up a Quad 99/909 on ebay for good money and they would excel with that combo.
 

OliverBen5672

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2021
31
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I'm torn now. On the one hand I've heard so many good things about the yamaha as501. Its supposed to be pretty straight forward and is hard to beat for the money. Many people I've spoke to on forums are impressed with the sound and say its a great starter amp - unfussy in pairing and capable of driving speakers.
Obviously when researching I came across many excellent amps at higher prices - the few that stick in my mind are Musical Fidelitys MSI range, Rega elex-r and Naim Nait 5si. All of these are around the £1000 mark, 3x as expensive as the yamaha. At that kind of price difference its obvious why I'd prefer to use the as501, for 3x the money I'd expect a pretty big jump in performance. I'm not sure I could afford any of those at the moment, although might be able to soon if I can find some second hand. If I'm going to have to upgrade soon then that might be preferable anyway and cheaper in the long run.
To put it simply I think I would prefer to get the as501 purely because of my budget but don't want to damage my speakers or limit their performance too greatly. Some people on here say they will, others say they wont, I cant audition due to covid, its a hard decision. I haven't bought the amp yet so I have some time to decide and will talk to as many people as I can to make the most informed decision I can.
I guess part of the problem is I bought a high end speaker when I may not be able to match its quality in other areas, but I saw it going on ebay and couldnt resist.
If anyone has any further thoughts I'd really like to hear them.
Edit - I should add I went for the Monitor Audio Gold Reference 20, I'm picking them up on wednesday and hes said I can give them a demo with his Marantz pm6007 which hes said they work well with.
Another amp I thought I'd add I'd heard about was the Quad Vena ii and Cambridge Audio CXA range
 
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insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
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I don't believe you'd damage the speakers with your AS501 before you'd blow your ear drums so I wouldn't stress too much about that.

Also may I suggest that you're going at it from a little of an interesting angle.

I'd say this order would make it easier

Get speakers that work in your room -> Get an amplifier that is capable of driving the speakers -> Pick a source that won't restrict overall fidelity of your system and will match it sonically

If at any point you can incorporate acoustic treatment even better
 

amormusic

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2016
202
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Does anyone have any recommendations for budget Bluetooth adaptors (or DACs that have a Bluetooth/streaming option)?
As you've got your speakers sorted but this question seems missed.

Yes. Avoid bluetooth entirely if you can, its lossy and can easily be outperformed ime.

You mention streaming and being on a budget. Do you mean spotify/tidal etc.?

If so, skip BT entirely and pick up a Google Chromecast Audio. It's the cheapest way into streaming and will sound much much better than Bluetooth.
 

OliverBen5672

Well-known member
Feb 27, 2021
31
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Still undecided on amps, there's no rush to buy so I will wait a bit and hopefully get some more replies. Based on what I've heard so far the yamaha wont cause any damage but it will not produce the sound the speakers are capable of. Another recommendation that's come up a few times now is the acram alpha 10 which, second hand, is similarly priced to the as501. Say I'm going to wait and try and get as many peoples thoughts as possible so I can make the most informed decision.

Yep streaming on a budget basically, I intend to listen to vinyl for the best quality listening but would like a cheap way just to stream some tunes from my phone when I feel like it. The Chromecast looks to do that very well, thanks for letting me know about it. Do you know if its compatible with Amazon music by any chance, I'm just having a look into that now too.
 

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