Ok, I'm a brand new audiophile, or perhaps I should say I've been a wannabee audiophile for many years.
I just got a used pair of Paradigm 11se Mk II for $150. I know these are a bit older, but next to my previous Infinity RS-5B (which I'll have to sell now - anyone know what they're worth?), these are a huge improvement.
I've done a LOT of research and decided that all I need now are an integrated amp and a cd player. My budget is around $1,000 and from all my research, it seems my best bet is a Cambridge Audio 640A v.2 integrated amp and Cambridge Audio 640C v.2. The 640A is only 75 watts per channel, but supposedly 100 watts for 4 ohms, which is what my Paradigms are. Even though my Paradigms go up to 160 watts, with the size of the room I have, I'll never need anything close to that, so I figure that amp will suffice just fine.
So anyway, does this seem a good use of my money for a good entry level amp/cd player? Can anyone think of a better system for the money? Obviously I'll have to get a good conneting cable and speaker wire too.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Brand new to Audiogon.
FYI, you should only worry about the minimum rating on your speakers which is about 10 watts. The Cambridges are nice pieces and will do well. You may want to consider Music Hall also (25.2 amp and cd). Do you want a matching tuner also?
Ready for number and letter soup? I have the 640C v2 and really like it. I think the all-640 combination you suggest is over your $1000 budget new, yes? Unless you are looking to buy these used, which may be a good idea, you might consider getting the 540A v2 integrated amp and mating it with the 640C v2 CDP. The 540A has less juice than the 640A, but gets good reviews and just sounds really well balanced. The 640C v2 has the same dual DAC arrangement as the new 740C, and sounds noticeably better than the 540C, which actually sounds pretty good. If you are buying used, make sure both amp and CDP are version 2, since they are noticeably better than the original versions.
You might also take a look at Music Hall integrated amps and CDPs, as they sound great for that kind of money. My 2 cents.
I'm going to suggest the NAD C-352 integrated. I bought one used for $300 a few months back. That amp is a true bargain. I also owned a NAD C541i cd player two or three years ago. The newer 542 is a very nice cdp with HDCD for the money. Good luck whatever you find.
I would consider buying an older Rotel Int. amp and an older RCD-855 CDP. Both could be bought for under $300 used. Or go w/ a newer Rotel RCD-975 CDP or a CAL Icon MK II/DX-2. Under $500. Any of these combinations should sound exc. w/your Paradigms. (I'm enjoying my Paradigm Phantom V4's w/all Rotel equipment. Exc. value and great build quality.) Good Luck! Bill
For this guy, why would a lack of a main-in jack matter as a reason not to buy the Cambridge. Its an budget integrated amp. There are uses for this, but why would the typical person upgrade the preamp part?
I've always thought that those budget amps with cheap jumpers on the pre-out/main in, just degrades the sound, especially after they get older.
Kind of like buying car based mainly on how good the stereo is.
Someone asked me about a tuner, and I really don't need one. I used to have a tuner with my old crappy Technics system and I got rid of it because I noticed that it had been years since I listened to the radio and it was taking up space. Also, a main-in jack is not important.
Among other things, people have suggested to me the following: Music Hall intergrated amps (25.2) and CDP's, the NAD C-352 integrated, the NAD C541i CDP, the NAD C542 CDP, an older Rotel Int. amp and an older RCD-855 CDP, a newer Rotel RCD-975 CDP or a CAL Icon MK II/DX-2.
Has anyone compared any of those suggestions to either a Cambridge Audio 640A v.2 integrated or 640C v.2 CDP? I appreciate the suggestions, but if I'm going to seriously consider a different option, I want to make sure I'm at least going to get as good a system or better. Has anyone done a side by side comparison with any of these?
Unfortunately, I live in Southern Oregon and the nearest audiophile store to me is at least a 3-hour drive. Even then, many of them only have very limited brands so it would be very difficult if not impossible to compare the Cambridge Audio units I'm eyeing with some of those others suggested unless I got really lukcy and they carried both brands. That's why I'm trying to make the best decision based on my online research.
I find it a bit frustrating doing research, as once I find equipment that looks highly reviewed and sounds ideal, I find another website or review where someone is trashing the same unit. Everyone seems to have different standards. I want to have the highest standards I can, but for now have to settle with the higher standards I can while staying near my budget. ;)
Even if you had access to all these in a store, it is very difficult to discern differences much less preferences unless you have it in your own system for an extended period.
I'd suggest finding a source that offers you a 30 day evaluation period, pick one, and give it a listen. For example, AudioAdvisor.com carries the Cambridge Audio stuff (NAD also I think), has free shipping and will give you 30 days to decide. Your only cost should you return it, is the cost of shipping.
Should you want to try something else, I've found many vendors will offer an evaluation period if you ask.
Even w/an in-home audition, you do not have a point of reference as to determine how good/refined/musical a product really is w/o first having heard different levels or classes of equipment. There is entry-level/ mid-fi and high-end. What we are talking about here is basically the same class of equipment. May I suggest one other avenue to approach. Buy used a really good high-end int. amp, say Bryston B60, Classe Cap series, Creek, etc...something which retailed new for $1500-2000 from a reputable seller. You can always resell and lose very little. You'll upgrade sooner or later, might as well skip a step. Just a thought...
I have owned a number of solid state integrated amps and receivers over the years (NAD C320BEE, Musical Fidelity A3.2, Audiosource 200, Marantz 2240, Harmon Kardon 3340) and for the money ($650), I would go with the Outlaw RR2150 receiver. The amplifier side is both detailed and musical sounding. Has a spectacular tuner, as well as some features (phono input) that might be of use to you. Here is a review .
As for the CD player, I would go with a Music Hall CD25.2 ($540). Excellent CD only player. Cambridge Adio used to make an Azur 540 DVD player which is excellent as well, if you could find one.
My bedroom system consisting of the Outlaw RR2150, CA 540, and Rega Ara monitors is a real pleasure to listen to. Very non-fatiguing sound. Sounds excellent with just about any type of music. Speaker placement is terrible ... on top of a bookcase about a foot apart and a foot from the rear wall and it is still a very pleasant listen.
Ok, ok. So after taking in the suggestions thus far and doing more research (you'd think I was buying a small moon), I must admit I'm quite pleased and enthusiastic with what I've read about the Outlaw RR2150 integrated amp/receiver (thanks, Rich!). I decided that I might want to get a subwoofer at some point to compliment my Paradigms, and this would do the trick. Also, even though I never listen to the radio, it'd be nice to have the option in case our local community radio station every does get on the local airwaves.
Thanks everyone for their help and suggestions thus far. BTW, does anyone know what a used pair of Infinity RS-5B speakers go for? I have my first piece of equipment now that have been upgraded and that I can sell to help defray the costs of what I'm looking at purchasing.
Now I just have to decide on a cd player. More research...
If you go to this review site for the Cambridge 640C, you notice some people had quality problems with early 640s, but I have had no trouble owning sequentially both versions over a 1.5 year period. I have noticed a big improvement in sound quality as my 640C v2 has broken in, now sounding smoother, more open and with deeper and more musical bass.
I agree that the low cost integrated amps have very similar sound quality - so one reason to buy the Cambridge amp is that it has been voiced to work together with their CDPs, although it is possible to defeat this advantage by using the "wrong" interconnects. My gripe with NAD is that they have plastic face plates, seems like a cheap touch in a competitive market. Outlaw idea is interesting.
Another reason to go all Cambridge is that the fine Azur remote control will operate both units, for what that is worth.
If you are going for ultimate bang for the buck, used gear is a good route, but probably a better way to go once you have been involved in the hobby longer. Your remote location will mean a close relationship with UPS/FedEx until you find what you like.
One last note, save some money for good interconnects and decent budget power cables. Check out Signal Cable at: http://signalcable.com/ for relatively cheap PCs. There are many places to get reasonably priced but effective ICs including Signal.
Ok, thank you everyone so much for your responses.
I realize that I'm shooting over my budget at this point, but I believe I'm going to go with the Outlaw RR2150 receiver (used if I can find one, otherwise new), and a used Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 with the updgrades including the upsampler.
With luck, I can keep both these components to $1,500 (in fact, if I had the cash today, I know I could). So it'll take me a little longer to save the money, but it'll be worth it and I'll be able to, as someone kindly suggested, skip a step in the upgrade process.
Anyone have any other thoughts? Of course, until I've spent the money I could still change my mind, but I really like what I've found in my research on these units...
Yes, but would a 340C with a Benchmark DAC1 sound better than a Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 with the updgrades including the upsampler? The reviews for that CDP are pretty universally out of this world.
I appreciate the suggestion about the subwoofer, but I'm new to this and extremely anxious to ditch my sub-par old and error-ridden integrated amp and cd player for an upgrade to go along with my new speakers. I can get a subwoofer at any point thereafter.
Based on your budget, and the decisions already reached ... here's a suggestion. Go ahead and get the Outlaw 2150 ($650). Can't go wrong there. These are the same design elements as those used by Amplifier Technology Inc (ATI). Go to Signal Cables for all your cabling. Pick up a Sony CE595 CDP changer ($150) and get it modified ($750) by Tube Research Labs (TRL). Enjoy the music! Your total cost: approximately $1,550 - not including cabling.
I would highly, highly recommend you get the REGA Brio 3 over the Cambridge Audio integrated amp. I originally purchased a Cambridge Audio 540A V.2 and although it sounded good, it didn't sound significantly better than the "jack of all trades" Pioneer Elite receiver I replaced it with, so I returned it. I wanted a better sound/quality for the money, so I tried the Cambridge Audio 640 int. amp. and I still was not impressed, so I went with the REGA Brio 3 and I am still overwhelmed with how amazing it sounds. If you can live without the balance and tone controls, or the headphone jack, then the BRIO 3 is the best for the money that I heard bar none. You can read the reviews on it at www.audioreview.com and you will see how much better they are than the Cambridge's. The REGA is designed to be the best quality, best engineered int. amp money can buy.
As far as the CD player goes, I listened to the Rega Apollo with the Rega Brio 3 and it was astounding how good it sounded. I believe that there is something to be said for synergy with buying components from the same manufacturer, but the Apollo CD player is still getting rave reviews from people that have other int. amps. that aren't Rega. I briefly listened to a Cambridge Audio 640C CD player after listening to the Rega Apollo with the Rega Brio 3 and it just did not do anything that stood out to me. Granted, it sounded really good, but it didn't blow me away like the Rega Apollo did. I also listened to a much more expensive NAIM CD player on the Rega Brio 3 and it did not sound better than the Rega Apollo at all, I actually liked the Apollo better. With that said, I am without a CD player until I can afford an Apollo somehow because I listened to quite a few other players and it blew them all away. But if you have to stay under $1000, then I would consider a used Rega Jupiter 2000, or perhaps a Music Hall 25.2 because www.stereophile.com highly recommended it in one of their reviews.
Used Onix SP-3 ~ $450-500, new Oppo HD980 $169 + shipping and you have money left over.
Don't let the power ratings mislead, this tube amp will easily fit your needs and this combo is killer. I'm using this combo in a 2nd room with a pair of Zu Druids, Zu Gede IC's and generic 12 guage speaker cables and it's awesome.
I am considering getting a OPPO HD980 now, how do you like it? I really want the REGA Apollo CD player because it sounds amazing, but the money is not there yet. I do not have a TV and I heard that you need a monitor to set the OPPO up, is this true?