No gear recs from me. I wouldn't attempt to spend the 6K for you. What I like, you probably wouldn't. Especially since we have two different rooms. I will make the following comments though...
I think a 3K amp driving a 2K pair of speakers is pretty unbalanced system. If it was me, I would do it the other way around.
Also, I would design a system in this order - Speakers, Amp, Source, DAC, Cabling. So far, we know your taste in music, you want to hear every instrument and you do like B&W. So, start listening to other B&W models and other brands that are designed like B&W to zero in on the speaker that sounds best to you. Then find an amp that will properly drive those speakers. This may answer your tube or SS question. Finally select your source and your DAC. Come to us with a short list of actual models so owners of those models can give you meaningful opinions.
Its a journey, treat as such and most importantly enjoy it. You will be on your way to a system that is best for you and not us.
But if you really want to know how I would spend your 6K...
I was pretty much in your shoes 8 years ago: had CM4, Rotel amp, preamp, CD player. Started itching about upgrades and reading the wonderful comments about vinyl and thought I should go that route. Some experienced forum members suggested not to go that route unless I already had a lot of vinyl, which I didn't. In hindsight, was great advice at least for me.
Of course, the itch remained. Pretty much like Paraneer suggested, I upgraded first the speakers to B&W 804S, then amp to McIntosh MC275, then pre to Lamm LL2, then got a Squeezeebox Touch, then a Metrum Octave DAC, then realized I wasn't listening tot the CD player anymore and sold it, then bought an Audiophilleo USB to SPDIF converter, and now just built my first audio server with a lot of optimizations in it (to replace an ancient laptop used as server). Also ancilliary stuff (subs, room treatments, power, etc). This makes sense, and I loved the journey.
However, throughout the journey I learnt a lot. I now know more aabout audio, but I also know what I like and what to listen for. And if I had to do it all over again now I would buy different speakers. Don't get me wrong: I like my speakers, but I think others would match my tastes better.
So my first question for you to think about would be: why vinyl? Sound can be great, but setting it up is not simple. And if you don't own much music in that format, does it make sense to you?
Digital today can achieve very high levels. The highest levels are tweaky too, just like vinyl, but very good digital can be had for relatively less money and not as tweaky. Digital is evolving fast, so I wouldn't spend too much on a DAC at this point. But I suggest you experiment with a computer as source. Go cheap for starters and learn if you like the convenience of accessing music you want to buy, accessing music you already own from an iPad/android device, etc.
Your new room is rather small, so be careful not to get too large a speaker for it. Maybe it's best to move your existing speakers and understand how the room sounds. If it were me, I would spend a lot more on speakers and drive them with a smaller (cheaper) yet very good amp. Also be aware that when you upgrade your speakers, likely to more resolving ones, they will let you hear defficiencies upstream. Not necessarily a good thing! This happened to me: With the 804S the Rotel amp/pre sounded bright/shrill, and eventually upgraded the amp. I suggest you don't rush to an upgrade and spend a fair amount of time listening to speakers and amps before you buy, and learning about your room, placement within the room.
Sorry for the rambling! Hope this helps.
Really good advice fellas. Didnt even think about what the system would sound like in the office. I understand the reasoning behind prioritizing investment costs. Speakers, Amp, Dac, Table, etc.
Will give the set up a go in the new enviroment then report back on thoughts, seeking advice.
With that said, what is the forum's thoughts on used speakers? How can you tell that the product is in good working order? Without getting burned. And how old is too old? Found a nice pair of Naut 805's for 2k. 10 years old though?
Regarding the question on Vinyl, I think that there is something to be said about listening to an album from start to finish. yes, digital is more convenient, but also believe my generation doesnt appreciate the story behind the cover. Album name, songs, etc.
We tend to have too much access to too much info under our fingers, which at least for me yields unthoughtful exploration of the names of songs and albums. So, if I buy Vinyl, it might force me to learn more about the artist and or song due to the physical presence. Actually LISTEN to the albumn from start to finish, even if the song isnt my favorite. makes ya just slow down and live. Or if I hear a song I love, pull out the cover and see its song 3 and title X. Maybe its stupid. Not trying to turn this into a blog, just might intial thoughts on why Vinyl.
Also, thinking about creating a "record club" with my fellow music buddies. Everyone brings over a 6 pack and a few of there favorite LP's. We listen to a song and talk about the album.
Lastly on Vinyl, many of the shows I am attending actually sell LP's next to the T Shirts. Wouldnt mind starting to buy them everytime I go to show. Example, saw Andrew Bird in Chicago in a Presby Church. Tift Merrit played along with him. I bought my daughter a t shirt, looked at the LP's and thought, wish I had a record player. At the least, the LP would be a physical document of a good memory. Dont have that with digital media.
I dont expect to go out and buy a ton of LP's, but do feel I would listen from time to time. Plus you can grab some good deals on craigslist. So, perhaps its just a phase I am going through or maybe the next step of my hobby that might actually be a durable interest. Either way it would just be an addition to a system, so might drop the investment to a lower value or priority. My digital will still be king.
Pretty cool system you have - my 2 cents - I focus on speakers and adequate power. Most of my budget goes to the speakers and I always like to have lots of power on tap. That's kind of it, I don't go nuts on DACs and cables.
Vinyl is great - lots of fun...
$2k for Nautilus 805 seems high. $2k for 805S would be more reasonable, I think. But do yourself a favor and audition more brands. People swearing by their Reference 3a De Capos, for instance. Never heard them, but would try to if I could, and in your price range.
Don't rush to calm your itch. Enjoy the learning phase.
what is the forum's thoughts on used speakers? How can you tell that the product is in good working order? Without getting burned. And how old is too old?
To me, speakers are the toughest of all our gear to purchase used, especially as you move up to larger floorstanders. The shipping (assuming you are not able to pick them up in person) can be difficult and the packaging is not as reliable as for our other gear. I trust most packaging for even 100 lb amplifiers more than I would trust most speaker packaging. Larger speakers should be strapped to a pallet and shipped freight. I would be very careful by only purchasing used speakers from reputable sellers, like maybe dealer demos with warranty, or at least dealer trade-ins. Consider buying from long-time audiogon members with positive feedback. If I were a seller with expensive floorstanders, I would sell for less to a buyer who was willing to pick them up in person.
I also like what Lewinskih01 said above, enjoy what you have and listen to other brands. I had a pair of Matrix 803 SIIs that I really liked but I have found Aerial speakers to provide a natural sound that is different from B&W, just as good, and more enjoyable to me. Buy a reputable brand that is going to be around if you need repair, like B&W. The 3A suggestion was good. There are speakers that mate better with lowish powered tube amps, if you are heading toward tubed gear. Coincident my be another speaker brand to audition since they perform very well with tube amplifiers of low to moderate power. The type of amplification needed should be a major consideration in the speakers you purchase. Don't buy speakers that work best with high current SS amps (like my Aerials) if your preferred amplification going forward is tubed.
Good luck and have fun.
Not sure if you are interested or where you live, but I'm selling off a great Quicksilver full function integrated and Silver Mono's that give up high current 90 tube watts. Im also selling off a floor standing Proac Super Towers that completely disappear and are a perfect match with the Quickies. I will sell the MIT cabling for it. The speaker cables are the top of the line MIT MH 770 CVT's not the lower line MH750. I also have the MIT Shotgun CVT cables to hook between the amps. Not many bad things said about any of these components and they seem to be in your range and are in great shape. Just let me know if interested. I went with Proacs over BMW as I liked how they disappeared and threw a huge soundstage. With the MIT and Quickies they also make piano sound like piano,which is tough to do. Great luck with whatever you do as it's all fun.
Match the speakers to the space and your taste in music first. The CM1s are nice, but I really love Harbeths. You could start with the P3 ESR which will look too small, but they're not, and then later upgrade to the Compact 7s, which are awesome. Mate the P3s with a Primaluna Prologue integrated perhaps? Vinyl. Hmmm. I like vinyl too for the reasons you enumerate, but $1000 digital will arguably sound better than $1000 on vinyl rig. $1000 will get you a nice Rega deck with cartridge and entry phono preamp. But the Rega DAC is damn good too--there's one listed for $600 on Gon now. Just some random thoughts, but find the speakers you love first is great advice.
I'm a big Harbeth fan - I have a pair of the P3ESR's - highly recommended!
I agree that you definately should try your exisiting gear in your new listening area. And keep in mind that if you're are satisfied with the sound as it is, you might end up chasing the same sound you started with, but with a lot less money in your pocket in the end. But if you continue and do it wisely, you might score gold.
If you really like your speakers and the sound from them, keep them. If you want to try something else, compare with your current speakers in your own room. If you feel like it, buy used (I have no problem buying used speakers, in fact I prefer it as I don't have to worry about scratches on new wood veneer by the cats) and compare with your current speakers, keep the ones you like most. Or of course, borrow from any hifi store.
I have owned one McIntosh tube amp, the big integrated MA2275, a wonderful amp, but lacked a bit of bass control, like many tube amps tend to do. The sound is generally very nice, smooth and easy to listen to. I've heard the MC275 and the sound is similar, nice piece of gear. Personally I would prefer Audio Resarch as you can choose more freely when it comes to speakers, the bass is better I think. I haven't heard their smallest integrated amps but I'm pretty sure they sound great, look for the ARC VSi55 or VSi60, you should easily be able to get any of these for under 3k when they come up on the used market. And if you have the time and money to spare, sell for the same price if you don't like it.
Another tube option is Jadis, especielly for the kind of music you listen too (same as myself!). I own different Jadis equipment and the other day I bought their integrated Jadis Orchestra Reference, around 3k new. It's a wonderfu sounding 2x40 watt great looking amplifier, and it has tone controls too which I like a lot! The sound is very "real" and has surprisingly good bass control too.
If I would go solid state, I probably would have chosen the Musical Fidelity M6i, I think it sounds terrific, I could have owned one myself and lived with it forever probably. Of course there are hundreds of other amps out there, these are just my initial recommendations. Please keep us posted, very interesting to follow and see what you come up with! Good luck.
You have been provided with much thoughtful advice and I will try to avoid redundancy while reinforcing some of it.
Move into new room prior to replacing existing gear.
I believe the Rotel 1520 has a phono stage, therefore it would not be too costly to satisfy your vinyl itch, given the provided reasons for it. Purchase a ProJect Debut Carbon or Rega turntable for under $500 and enjoy. Music Direct sells both online.
I believe in purchasing used gear. Have bought used from dealers and here on AG with great return on investment. Can't recommend buying a used turntable except as a pickup only. Amplification is a mature technology, ~5 year old amplifiers should be had for 50% of original retail and have most of their viable years left. I would stick to an integrated for cost reasons.
Save your digital upgrade for last. DACs have been around for a long time with the most recent development being there use with computer. The Async USB interface most recent. There are many high quality DACs on the market today that will be available used at great savings. Digital products suffer depreciation to a greater extent than other audio products. Your digital front end can be improved after you have explored and satisfied your speaker and amplification needs.
I have gone the computer route, via MAC Mini with Pure Music, a USB to SPDIF converter, and DAC. I also have a vinyl system though it is much the same as when purchased in 1982. One thing about turntables, they last and have held value.
After your move get back to us. Also please provide more on size of the office room. Good luck!
Audition a lot of speakers, go from there. Vinyl is great fun but ultimately expensive.
I've found that $1000 of vinyl is still much better than the same priced digital. I am selling off my TT/cart and albums as I don't have room for them and with MS, it's just easier using digital, but I LOVE analog best still and I've heard some 10k plus DACs. The irony is that the Krell Stealth DAC still sounds pretty awesome after all these years and the bass is much better than most DACs I've heard recently. Ironic how some of the vintage products can still sound great for the price.
I still think that upgrading should be very carefully done. Too often we hear of folks just getting new products to get new products (used or new) and then they turn around around go through it all again within 6 months. I never understood that unless THAT'S the real hobby ;)