MidFi multi channel solution needed for HT.


Due to financial position currently, I can't purchase what I want, so to fill the short term need ... I need a multi channel solution below a $4000 threshold. My speakers demand plenty of high quality power to perform at their best, so I am looking to fill that void that was once filled with high end 2 ch separates. If anyone could comment on their own experiences with any of the below solutions I would appreciate it.

Looking for anyone to comment or suggest on their experience they addressed themselves or have helped others reach a well thought out conclusion on same topic. I am looking for a best quality AVR or separate solution. Not necessarily one with the most features. Budget is $2k-4k

Looking for suggestions from those that have had experience with high quality AVRs or midfi AV separates. Entertaining the following products / companies, not in any particular order.

Considering the following AVRs

NAD t777v3 - great sound has Dirac, but unclear if replacement is coming shortly
Arcam -- buggy and unreliable track record but great sound
Cambridge cx200 - no RC to speak of other than REW 3rd party
Lexicon RV9 - unproven track record since Harman acquired them.
Rotel RMB1580 - expensive
Anthem MRX720 - rumor has it that ARC is 2nd to Dirac.

Not considering any other AVRs as a powered solution. But, I am considering a possible use of denon or marantz avr as a preamp as a midfi separates setup, but not sure how the sound quality would compare to the above AVRs.

1. Outlaw 976 with 5-7ch amp ( ati, monoprice, outlaw, rotel or other midfi amp)
2. Midfi AVR such as ( denon 6x00 or Marantz701x ) with separate amplifiers

My biggest stumbling block in the decision process is whether or not the Outlaw 976 will be 'better' than any of the listed solutions on the preamp and processing end of things. And I am hesitant to jump on board with the Outlaw 976, due to major omissions ( no upgrade path, no network or usb connections ). And the tech support is questionable. But if it sounds hands above the rest, I would gladly consider it.

Looking forward to hearing what others can suggest.

current components:

b&w cdm9nt with matching center ch
Kimber Kable 8tc
Kimber Kable ICs



Thx in advance.
lightfighter2018
So, I have a few questions for you before I start down a specific direction:
1.  Is the type/quality of room correction, such as Dirac or ARC, a required  item?

2.  Is the quality of the analog audio circuit important?

3.  Is upgradability an important factor? (if so, then NAD is really the only option within your budget).

4.  Would you consider buying used?  Or do you want only new equipment?
My suggestion is, save for what you really want. If you spend $4000.00 on something you don't really want, you will have to start saving all over again.That's a lot of money and you will only get a fraction of it back by reselling. Just my two cents worth of opinion.
auxinput.

1. Short answer. No. But being that the equipment is not in its own dedicated space ( great room w/kitchen ) I was under the impression some RC would be beneficial. And as I understand it -- ARC and Dirac are far superior to AudXT.  

2. Yes audio circuit would be important, but I know that finances dictate compromises. 

3.  Upgradability is a perk, but not sure its a necessity.  From what I have researched, upgrading via MDC is somewhat cost prohibitive if you factor in the actual cost of a ' latest and greatest ' AVR vs cost of the module being replaced. Depending on what the state of AVRs are in would dictate that move.

4. I would consider used given the right circumstance.  But I do want/need current hdmi specs as well as 4k passthrough. Atmos is not a requirement. WAF dictates number of speakers. On the amp side, as long as the amp is in good working order - I am all for saving money by purchasing used gear.

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Full disclosure.  I have been out of the AV scene a very long time; although I have tried to keep up on the knowledge end of things by reading what I can.  But, with multiple shops closing that I once visited I have not been able to audition gear. My focus as of late had been raising kids and life got in the way of my once great appreciation for all things audio. Sorry didn't mean to derail the topic. Carrying on... 

The crux of this is that I am trying to solve my failing equipment issue, and I am unable to ' wait ' for the budget to grow or get more funding approval from the wife :).  Comprise will have to be just that... compromise. But I want to at least position myself with decent AV gear.

I am open to any suggestions. 

Can you comment on whether or not the preamp side of NAD, Arcam, Cambridge, Anthem is ' better ' than that of Marantz or Denon -- if I choose to use the AVR as a preamp only?  What about a dedicated preamp such as the Marantz 770x or Outlaw 976?  Are either of these going to be a 'better' choice vs one of the above AVRs positioned as just a pre/pro?  Putting aside room correction choices for the moment.

Thanks in advance. 



tpreaves.

I would prefer to 'wait' to upgrade but I have failing equipment and need to insert a solution that I can live with for possibly the long term.  I realize I may be in the minority - since I don't upgrade or change equipment every few years. Hope I am still accepted into this group.

Waiting for the budget to grow would not be feasible at the moment.  And I am not sure the WAF would approve any considerable increase in the budget.  

As far as I know the next step up in sonic improvement from a $2-$4k budget is ... $6k-10k just for pre pro... I am not sure there is anything in between -- unless I am missing something and that just isn't going to happen unless our financial position changes dramatically. 

So, any other comments or suggestions are welcomed.
Post removed 
In addition. Not an after thought. Just forgot to ask... 

In your opinion which solution ( which brands ) has the best chance of complimenting my B&W CDM9NTs?  

I am open to the idea of getting an avr and purchasing a 2ch amp for LR use.  So I am open to looking at used Rotel, Classe etc.  

So if anyone has any suggestions beyond those please feel free to chime in.
Okay, I'm doing an approach based on your budget as well as my own preference.  I am not one who likes room correction systems, so my approach is fully based on sound quality alone.   First, I would look at picking up a Marantz AV7703 or AV7704 HT processor.  These are just the recent generations.  They will only be less then a couple years old and they will also support 4K and many of the newer features.  The reason I recommend this is that the Marantz processors (as well as the upper end receivers), are the only items at this price level that have fully discrete analog output circuits (instead of op amps like everybody else).  They are excellent sound quality, but are on the warm sounding side, so I would also recommend upgrading the internal fuse to something like Hi-Fi Tuning "Supreme" or "Silverstar" fuses.  These are silver fuses and will increase the high frequency resolution.  You may also find that you need to upgrade the power cord to have something like silver-plated plug/IEC connectors or even silver plated copper wiring  (I generally don't advise silver, but in this case I think you will need it).  The AV7703 and AV7704 can be easily found on ebay between the $700 and $1200 range.

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This leaves a great portion of your budget for amplification.  The B&W really need a high resolution amp with lots of current.  There is a Krell S-1500 on audiogon for $2800 that would be an excellent candidate.  There is a Classe Sigma Amp5 for $3000 that could be another good choice.  I would avoid warm sounding amps like McIntosh, Adcom, B&K, Acurus, etc.   If you can find a used Emotiva XPR-5 or even XPA-5, those would work great.
If you are going the receiver plus amp route, the higher end Marantz may be a choice, but only if you do a fuse/powercord upgrade.  Otherwise, the Anthem MRX receivers are about the highest resolution receivers for sound quality.  Then find a very high resolution 2-channel amp.
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If you get a stock Marantz receiver or HT processor and do not do a fuse or power cord upgrade, then a super fast Bryston amp could be a very good match to the "warm" sounding Marantz.
Auxinput. 

Thank you for your recommendations. I will revisit the Marantz 770x option again.  Not meaning to drive this thing in circles. So, I appreciate your input.  If you would like you can expand on why you are not a fan of room correction. Curious. I am under the impression RC when executed well - can have a positive effect.

I am still unsure if I am on board with the room correction band wagon as it were. I read daily that it is the one thing that can improve performance in an otherwise lousy space. Within reason. Although I have no real world experience to justify my thought process. My room is far from ideal, and speaker placement is not ideal so optimizing where possible was my thought process.

I was hesitant to go the Marantz route because I had heard from more than one source that the Marantz of 20 years ago is long gone, and since being bought out - Marantz along with Denon have sacrificed quality of sound for features that detract from it.

Do you think Emotiva surpasses the likes of : Outlaw, ATI, Monoprice ( rebadged ATI ), Rotel, Music Fidelity, or even NAD? Do you think any of these amps would be complimentary to the CDM9NTs that I have?  My other surrounds are Sonance inwalls. Nothing to write home about, so driving them with a high priced amp is not mandatory.

Thanks again for your time. Appreciate gaining perspective from those that know more than myself.

  
Auxinput. 

If you would - can you explain why the fuse upgrade causes an audible improvement?  Would this work with any other AVR or preamp - or Marantz specifically?

I am not familiar with the fuse mod.
If you can, try to audition the new Parasound A52 plus, It's within your budget. It is 5 channels at 180 watts per channel and sounds great. I just purchased one about 2 months ago for my HT to power my KEFS R700, R600C & R300. I was using my NAD 758 which was okay but, having a separate amp is, IMO the way to go.  This amp is getting very good reviews. Good luck with your search. 
I have tried several different HT Processors and also tried room correction. I had a Theta processor that did Dirac room correction. No matter what I did, the Dirac was very intrusive to the sound and did funny things to the phasing - it was like the sound was at my head/ears (like headphones) instead of far out in front of me. The sound also became too smooth and it removed the micro details/textures. For bass, Dirac over equalized the spots where I had bass nulls and caused the drivers to peak out. I also did a Yamaha YPAO calibration in another theater and it just sounded better and more natural with YPAO turned off. I have found that you get better sound in the end if you just do acoustic room treatments instead of using room correction/EQ. I am probably an exception to this, as many others here say that room correction is great.
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I don’t know about the "Marantz not like they were 20 years ago". I have been following what Marantz has been doing for many years. They made a big jump since they upgraded/modified their original HDAM circuit years ago. This started with the AV7702 and AV8802 processors (the AV8801 had the older/slower circuit). They have excellent power supply design and, of course, a fully discrete analog output stage. I recently had a friend bring a brand new AV8805 processor to test my in system. We all were very impressed for a processor at the $4500 level. It had excellent sound quality and impact/fullness of sound, but it does have a slightly warm character (slightly rolled off highs) - which is why I said that this Marantz should be upgraded with silver fuse and/or silver power cord.
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I have owned several different Emotiva amps over the years. Emotiva is a very good amplifier "for the money". Just like the Monoprice Monolith. We had a discussion on this in another forum - the Emotiva may be more refined than Monoprice, but the current generation Emotiva uses a switching power supply (Gen 3) and does not have quite as much bass authority as the Monoprice. The older Emotiva amps with their huge transformer and power supplies would probably do better. However, these amps are not better than stuff like Rotel, NAD, Parasound etc.
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Oh , out of those amps, probably the Rotel would be best.  Then Emotiva/Monoprice
I do think Denon doesn't have great sound quality and sounds just like every other conventional receiver, such as Onkyo, Integra, Sony, Pioneer.  The best receivers, in my opinion, are Marantz (warm), Anthem (best resolution), and Yamaha is not bad sounding either.
Relating to your fuse question.  Fuses are a way to tune the sound of your system/equipment, and most all of upgraded fuses are going to be better than stock fuses.  However, the choice of fuse depends entirely on what you currently have and system synergy.   So.... I have 3 types of fuses that I generally use:

Furutech rhodium - this is my standard fuse and has excellent resolution and detail (but an incredibly long burn in time).  Made from pure copper and uses rhodium plated end caps.  However, in some cases, too many of these can slow down the sound too much.  It depends.

Hi-Fi Tuning "Supreme" or "Silverstar".  The "Silverstar" is 100% silver all the way through".  The "Supreme" uses a 99% silver / 1% gold mixture.  These are very fast conducting and can be used to increase the resolution and attack/detail of the sound.  But in some cases, it can cause the sound to become too bright/fast.

Isoclean or Hi-Fi Tuning "Cu".  These are all pure copper and gold plated.  They will warm up the sound and have rolled-off highs.  Great for a system that is too bright or fast or harsh.

So, I have found use for all these fuses in different systems.  My computer audio system uses Furutech fuses all the way through and has excellent sound.

My main system uses B&W speakers with Parasound amps.  I have JC1 for left/right and I had to load these fully with Hi-Fi Tuning Supreme because the JC1 was just too warm and did not have fast enough resolution.

My surround speakers are older Focal and the Parasound A21 amp had to be loaded only with Furutech.  If I put just one Hi-Fi Tuning in the amp, the sound became a little too bright edged and lost body.

My Emotiva XPR amps uses 2 Furutech fuses for the best sound.

I have had a cheaper Yamaha receiver that I had to load with one Furutech and one Hi-Fi Tuning Supreme to get the best balance.

A very fast Bryston amp would use an Isoclean or Hi-Fi Tuining "Cu" gold plated fuses to calm down the fast bright/harsh sound.
Interesting that just a fuse can alter the presentation of the amplifier. Has anyone ever bothered to compile a go-to list for recommendations for brand x fuse for brand y amp or avr, and what the end result will most likely be?

I know you listed a few above, but has anyone ever bothered to make it a bit more straight forward rather all of it being a crap shoot or plug and play guessing game? 

Backpedaling a bit about the 770x Marantz. Its my understanding that the Vietnam based mfg'd av gear is not regarded as well put together/designed/questionable QC - etc... as those coming out of china or japan.  Do you find this to be the case as a rule rather than the exception?

AFAIK china and japan mfg ( across many industries ) - just have their mfg QC down to a science, as it were - and therefore end products are just 'better' in general... 

Would you say there is any truth to this?


I know you have the Parasound amps. I will try and find a dealer to go and audition them.  If I am unable to do so, and I have to make another choice -- do you think the Anthem or Rotel would be a better fit than NAD or Parasound for my B&Ws?

I am going to drive out to the SF bay area and audition a few amps next week - but just thought I would ask for some guidance since you have been so willing to assist.

Since I have your attention - do you have any general suggestions for IC/hdmi cable 'brands' that don't cost a fortune? What about power cable suggestions?


I cannot really say anything about "Vietnam being worse than japan/china".  I really don't have any knowledge regarding this.  However, I have ordered individual electronic parts (capacitors, op amps, etc.) from digikey/mauser and they always come with a packing slip that indicates the origin of that batch.  I have had parts that came from Japan, Malaysia and even Mexico.  So even though it's "manufactured in Vietnam", the individual parts could come from anywhere.  The electronics industry is now a world market. 

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I can really only tell you how I believe a particular piece of equipment is going to sound based on the circuit design, personal experience, and youtube videos.  So if you feel nervous about buying something made in Vietnam, by all means go buy something you feel comfortable with!
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I don't think there is really a firm "rule" when choosing fuses.  It is a tool to tune sound, just like power cords, interconnect, speaker cable.  They all affect the end result in some fashion or another.  If you want a good cable brand, my usual recommendation are Audioquest and Wire World.  Audio quest is mostly solid core (except for the cheap stuff).  Wire World is not quite solid-core, but it's close.  Then pay attention to the types of terminations and wire (copper, silver-palted, silver, etc.) and choose based on how you want your equipment to sound. 

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Parasound is an excellent amp, but it is voiced warm with softer highs.  The fuse combinations all depend on what kind of speakers you have - as I said, with my B&W D3, I had to use all silver fuses in the amps.  However, with Focal, which is a much faster responding speaker, I could not use a single silver fuse and had to use all Furutech rhodium fuses.
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In my listening and opinion, Anthem amps have a weird sort of compressed sound to them.  It's hard to explain, but they don't seem to have very good high resolution "air" and seem to compress or create a messy like signature in the mids.  Other people may have different opinions, but this is what I hear with the Anthem amps.  The Anthem MRX receivers do not seem to have this sonic signature.
The Rotel would probably be the best fit among the brands we have mentioned.  I heard Rotel amps at RMAF and they are very refined and actually sounded very good.  They are not as "warm" sounding as Parasound or NAD and have more resolution than Parasound/NAD/Anthem.
Well. I pulled the trigger on phase 1. Purchased a Marantz 7704 for a good deal.  Will be auditioning some multichannel amplifiers once my 7704 arrives.

Any short list of AC power cords you can suggest that won't break the bank?  Not looking for $500 power cords. But would like recommendations on some that will be better than the stock cord.
Are you willing to do some DIY work?  Audioquest NRG-2 power cords can be had for less than $75.  Then chop the ends and cut/strip the conductors  and clamp them into a new Furutech FI-11-N1 (Ag) silver or a (R) rhodium IEC connector.  For male plug, you can do Furutech FI-11M-N1 (R) rhodium or the Cardas 3455R.  Many people don't realize that the connector plugs are a significant element of the sound quality.
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Don't forget about the Hi-Fi Tuning Supreme/Silverstar SMALL 2A fuse for the Marantz!
Auxinput.

Thanks!

I can do DIY for sure. If I am willing to spend ’more’ how much more would I need to spend to get more performance our of a pc? If so, which one do you suggest? Or is the suggestion you made with the suggested mod a sweet spot for dollars spent vs performance for a mid-fi system?

Will order the fuses you suggest. Should I order more than one fuse? Is this something that I need to replace ’only’ if it blows out like any other fuse? Or is there a maintenance schedule I should be aware of. Do these fuses operate in a either go or no-go status or is there degradation over time?

Will my plug ’end’ choice be dictated by which amplifier I end up with? Or will either be similar?

Do you suggest I replace the IEC female plug that is mounted on the 7704? If so, with which one?

Thx in advance.


+1 on the Rotel power amp. You should get the Rotel RMB-1585 five-channel amp. It retails for $3k new but try to look for a used one that can be had for around $2k ish. The RMB-1585 is a great amp for the money. The RMB-1585 is class AB design amp.
However, do not get the Rotel RMB-1575 amp, this is class D design. Get the RMB-1585, which is class AB. The Rotel will sound good on your B&W. They always pair really well together.

The Parasound Halo A51 or A52 five-channel amps are another great amps and will have better details than the Rotel RMB-1585. IMO the Halo A51 is a better amp than the Rotel RMB-1585 overall but it costs a bit more than the Rotel RMB-1585. Even a used Halo A51 will cost you a bit more than a used Rotel RMB-1585.
The Halo A51 originally retails for $4500 new.
That Audioquest NRG-2 is about the minimum I would suggest for a DIY project.  The Audioquest NRG-4 and NRG-5 cables are much better.  The NRG-5 actually has the best copper but it is 14awg.  The NRG-4 still has very excellent copper, but it is larger at 13awg.  All of my cables are Audioquest NRG-4 that have been chopped and terminated with Furutech FI-28 rhodium plugs.  Each one is pretty much a $400-450 investment, but I think it will outperform many other manufactured cables that are a lot more.  The NRG-4 and NRG-5 cables are more expensive, of course.
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You don't necessarily have to replace the IEC inlet on the Marantz.  You can if you want, but you really have to look inside to see what the stock inlet is like.  Sometimes they are attached/mounted directly on a circuit board and you cannot do anything with this.  If it's a standard inlet with wires attached via clips, you can replace it.  Furutech makes several IEC inlets and some have a built-in filter.  I would recommend the rhodium, as gold-plated will increase the warmth and roll off the highs on the Marantz.

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The fuse is something that you only have to buy if it blows.  It does not require any sort of maintenance.  However, stock fuses are not always the best sounding.  I recommended the Hi-Fi Tuning silver fuses because the Marantz is so warm and needs all the "silver" you can get to increase the speed and resolution.  Of course, if you want to see how the Marantz sounds "stock", that's totally fine.  You might feel just fine with the sound.  If you do get the fuse, be aware that it has a 12-14 day burn in (you need to keep the Marantz turned on 24 hours a day for about 2 weeks).  The fuse will go through all sorts of changes, from sounding bright/harsh in the midrange to very warm/mushy.

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I will also agree with caphill that you should NOT get any Rotel amp that is a Class D circuit.  They will sound weak and anemic and will not have bass impact or be engaging at all!  The normal Rotel Class AB amps are very excellent, however.
Oh, if you got a different HT Processor, you might consider how the synergy would work with the amp, but the Maratnz is so warm sounding that I think you really need silver/rhodium on the IEC plug (probably silver is best).
Caphill.
Auxinput.

Thanks.

Will order the silver fuses and the power cable ends you suggest. I may be able to get the nrg4 or 5 steeply discounted if Magnolia carries them. Not sure if Magnolia carries entire Audio Quest line. Will have to make a phone call this week.

Speaking of Class D vs Class A/AB ... do either of you - or anyone else for that matter still feel that class D in general all sound anemic compared to A/AB?

I have heard they have gotten better, but not sure class D has climbed the hurdle of having the ’oomph’ that A and AB are so well known.

Thanks.

Are audio quest IC cables decent? If so - which ones at minimum should I take a look at?

Suggestions on USB, Cat6, Toslink, SPDIF cables?
The NRG-5 is an older cable and is no longer made. 

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The problem with the Rotel Class D is likely because of the switching power supply they use.  Also, not all Class D circuits are the same or act the same.  If you are interested in getting a Class D solution, the ATI amplifiers (AT52x and AT54x) are much better designs that use a full linear power supply and the latest "nCore" amp board technology.  There are other manufacturers as well.  My impressions of Class D is that the amp can sound extremely clean with excellent separation of insturments and clarity.  However, it lacks that very high frequency resolution or "air" that adds life to the music.  Many people love their Class D amps, but I prefer the Class AB type.
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I think Audioquest cables are pretty decent because they all use a 21awg solid core conductor.  I think 20awg is the sweet spot, but 21awg is just fine.  You then have to look at how good of copper you want and what kind of terminations (either gold-plated or silver-plated).  The more expensive models have the DBS battery thing which I have never tested.  Wire World also has very excellent cables.

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For Toslink, don't even try to use them because the are the worst digital transfer, but if you absolutely have to , Lifatec cables are the best for the money.
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For digital COAX, if you are on a budget, get the Beldon 1694A from Blue Jeans cables and minimum 6 feet for any digital cable.  If you have money, then spend $230 or so on DH Labs D-750 cable.  Or somewhere in between with an Audioquest digital COAX.   For USB/Cat6, I don't know, but I do know that silver or pure silver is the best for any digital cable.
auxinput.

Thx.  I will check out the Audioquest gear since I have a contact withing Magnolia.




Auxinput.

Which HiFi fuse do I purchase? Slow or fast blowing?  Advantage or disadvantage of either?

And do you have any suggested retailer online to purchase them? 

Thx.
I usually recommend a 2A slow-blow for HT processors like that.

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Parts Connexion is selling out the Hi-Fi Tuning Silverstar fuses for 60% off.  The SMALL are $15.98 each.  Otherwise, I usually try to buy from VH Audio, unless he is out of stock.  The Cable Company also sells fuses, but sometimes the price is a little bit higher.
Looks like the fast blow fuses are the only ones on sale at Parts Connexion.

Unless the site has a typo for the slow blow fuses. https://www.partsconnexion.com/cgi-bin/sc/productsearch.cgi?search_field=hifi+2a&storeid=*20b7b4...

Prices otherwise are higher than other sites I believe.  

And I can't seem to find description of 'supreme' vs ' silverstar '... and it seems silverstar is hard to come by. Most places seem to only have 2A supreme... 

Thanks again.
Silverstar is discontinued by Hi-Fi Tuning, which is why Parts Connexion is selling them out at 60% off.  Parts Connexion still has 1.8A and 2.5A SMALL slow blow fuses in Silverstar line.  You will probably be fine with either.  Otherwise, you can choose Supreme if you wish.
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I have used both Silverstar and Supreme.  Silverstar is 100% silver and is very fast/bright.  Supreme is 99% silver, 1% gold. Supreme is not quite as fast (probably about 95% as fast sounding as Silverstar) and I would say that it is just a tiny bit warmer (but it is still fast like a silver fuse).
I will call them and order them. Thx.
I looked through the specs of the 7704 -- I didn't see what is the amperage of the fuse I am replacing to see which would be more ideal for a replacement... 1.8A vs 2.5A.  I know you said either would be okay -- but is one better suited?

Thx.


1.8A is fine.   That's enough for 216 watts of A/C power, which the HT Processor will not come close to using.
Auxinput.

Thx.

Quick question. Unrelated.

I have a possible line on some lightly used Acurus a200x2 and a100x3 amps. Approx 200 hrs of use in 12 years. - Owner claims. 

These are Mondial amps.  Not newly resurrected Acurus. for $600 seems like a decent deal, but do you think they would mate well with my b&w's?  

Thx.
Best I can tell, the Acurus/Mondial amps are a slightly colored / slightly liquid type of sonic signature - much like the liquid/lush cleaner type "Class A" amps, such as the older Krell (or new Krell iBias) or even a little like Levinson (though, not nearly as liquidy sounding as Mark Levinson is).  If this is the sound you're after, you could give it a try, but I suspect the warm sounding Marantz may create somewhat of a mush/mess with this amp.  If you got a very clean HT processor, such as the Anthem, then the Acurus might have been an interesting "coloration" on the sound.  The Acurus is not completely clean/clear when compared to other amps.  I would take that "200 hours" with a huge grain of salt! lol.

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The Rotel amplifiers are going to sound a lot cleaner and clearer and they mate well with the B&W speakers.  There is an Emotiva XPA-5 "Gen 1" on audiogon for $699 OBO.  The Emotiva is a very fast amp, but if you load it with Furutech fuses, it sounds quite good.  It may be a good match between Marantz processor and B&W speakers. 

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There is a Rotel RMB-1582 for $699.  It's only stereo, but you could start with that and then look for another good resolution 3-channel amp. 

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Just ideas.
thx.

will consider those for sure.


In my search for amplifiers I have run across various deals on the following:

Bryston -
B&K
Parasound - older - HCA stuff?  
Lexicon ( rebadged bryston? )
Proceed ( Mark Levinson? )
Sunfire Cinema Grand
McCormack 
Classe -

I know Rotel and Parasound Halo's have been recommended several times, and I am keeping my eye for them. But in the mean time, what/which of the above ( with or without a fuse mod ) would be a good fit for my CDM9NTs?

 Any solid advice is appreciated.
The Rotel will pair better with your B&W. 
B&K - I had a B&K 7200 a long time ago. It was a very nice amp, very powerful.  However, in the end, it was just too warm sounding for me.  Nice amp, though, if you like the warm sound.
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Sunfire Cinema Grand - I also had one of these.  The sound was pretty good, but ultimately it wasn't that interesting/exciting.  Good resolution, but the circuit was much like a class d circuit (patented downconverter).  It sounded rather boring.  Others have different opinions.


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Classe - the older Classe Audio amps and equipment were a LOT warmer sounding than the new stuff.  Nice, but warm, lol.
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Parasound HCA and Classic - these are lesser refined versions of the Halo A21 stuff.  Very good for the money and can pack a lot of power.  Parasound is on the slightly warm side of neutral, but not as warm as B&K.  However, pairing warm Parasound with the warm Marantz may lose too much resolution.


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Bryston - this is the one amp out of the list that is different from the rest, lol.  Bryston is extremely fast and high resolution.  The older first generation stuff was somewhat dull sounding, but they got better and better as time went on.  The SST2 version is probably the oldest I would buy right now.  It is very fast and high resolution, but I think it was a little sterile.  Not bad at all.  It might work out very well with the stock Marantz processor (without the fuse upgrade).  You could try the Bryston amp and do a Furutech fuse upgrade internally - that might make it sing better.  The Bryston is likely a little faster and much more refined than the Emotiva XPA amp.  I've heard people who had Marantz processor with a Bryston amp and they were very happy.
Auxinput.

Thanks again for your input. Maybe I will search for the Bryston and see what I can dig up. Do you think the silver star fuses would be too much for the 7704 and Bryston combo? I

I have always heard that Bryston is well regarded.

Do you have any info on the Lexicon ( rebadged bryston ? ) amplifiers?

Is Lexicon still a viable option now that they are part of Harman? I know at one point many moons ago Lexicon was the go-to for processing. Not sure what the opinions of the audiophile crowd is on Lexicon amplifiers these days.



Bryston is a very good device.  I tested the latest 7b3 monoblocks in my system.  They were just about the highest resolution amplifier I have heard, but they were not a good match. The Bryston amp is extremely fast and high resolution.  The problem is that it's too fast for my Krell preamp and rhodium plated cabling.  The sound was just too lean in the midbass and too thin in the midrange.  The Bryston would likely pair very well with a warm preamp and gold-plated terminations on cables.  That's why I put a positive slant on the Bryston with your Marantz 7704.   If you did go with Bryston, I would try it out "stock" first, without any fuse upgrades in either the Bryston or Marantz.  If the sound is good, then you're fine.  A Furutech fuse in this scenario would increase the midbass and midrange body and give you better depth.  A silver fuse with Bryston/Marantz could be too fast and too bright/thin.
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Based on googling, the Lexicon branded Bryston amps were the older second generation.  The following shows the entire list of versions for the Bryston 4B amp:

4B ==> 4B ST ==>  4B SST ==> 4B SST2 ==> 4B3 (cubed).

I don't know anything about Lexicon today.
Good to know. I am going to find out this weekend if I can get a Rotel 5ch for a decent price at Magnolia for a demo model.  If that falls through, keeping my eyes open.

Again thanks for the insight.


@lightfighter2018 In my own limited experience one can setup a HiFi for less than $4k and sometimes dare I say even with good speakers. Of-course used is the best way.

My electronics setup is less than $4k. My current setup is Tidal/Flac Mac USB -> Audio-Gd Master 5/6 (DAC + Preamp + Headphone amp(class A)) -> Benchmark AHB2. I got the used Benchmark for around $2k now and got the Audio-Gd Master 5 new few years ago for $1.5k. 

You can wing a used DAC + Preamp that is around $1.5k to $2k that could be better than Audio-Gd. 

Since the specs for your speaker clearly states minimum impedance is 3 Ohm, then why not try going for an amp that is rated on paper for 2 Ohm too?. Not sure the volumes and the distance you listen to but for typical you will need super clean and easy 50 Watts to 100 Watts, which means the amp should be rated far from 100 Watts (some exceptions like AHB2 have low distortion till clipping).

Why aim for MidFi when you can go for HiFi :). Well it can be a matter of perspective sometimes. 


@geek101 

Thanks for the input.  I appreciate it a lot.  As many folks do - I am searching for that ideal place where - great and cost effective meet.  



I think you're better off getting separates.  A dedicated amp is going to produce more power and the sound quality should be better.  I've had some nice AVRs, my last one being the Onkyo TX-NR3007.  Processors change and you may end up upgrading every 2-4 years while a good amp is something you can hang onto for a long time.

I've owned some of the amps you're considering (or similar models).  Some that have been through my home theater system include a Rotel RMB-1095, Sunfire Cinema Grand, Krell Showcase, and Lexicon LX-7.  The Rotel was nice, but a little "dry" and "grainy".  The Sunfire was a step up in refinement and dynamics, but a little "rolled off".  The LX-7 is still in my system, however I now have some Rogue Audio M-180s powering my mains.  The LX-7 handles my surrounds. 

I recently purchased a Marantz AV7704 to replace my AV8801.  While this might be considered a "downgrade" going from their top of the line to the mid, I'm quite happy with the AV7704.  I use a separate pre-amp for 2 channel listening, but if I did not, I think the 7704 sounds as good as the 8801 and doubt I could have been able to tell them apart in a blind listening test. 

For your budget, you should be able to put together a decent system.  I think I paid about $1400 for the AV7704 (refurbished) and the Lexicon was $1300 used when I bought it.  The LX7 is a little long in the tooth now and you might want something newer (although mine still works great).  I have not heard them, but have heard very good things about the Cinenova amps.  A used one would be on my short list if I was trying to do what you're doing today.
Hi Lightfigher2018,

I am a dealer and have experience with all brands that have been mentioned on this discussion post. Based on most of your requirements I highly recommend that you look at AudioControl Concert AVR9. IMO it is the best sounding AVR at its price point, has rock solid HDMI reliability, supports HDR, Atmos and Dolby Vision. AudioControl is a 40 year old U.S. company! Please call me if you wish to discuss.

Cheers
Bruce
www.hi-endaudio.com

@hi-endaudio 

Thanks so much.  I am somewhat familiar with the AC name, but have no experience with them.  I was actually considering them, but actually ended up getting a good deal on a Marantz AV7704.  

I am now searching for a 'half decent' multi channel amp.

I am considering a Rotel RMB-1555, due to cost.  Although I know its not a behemoth or a power player I now have to keep cost below 2k for the amp due to an unforeseen family emergency.  I am looking at other options now, but I just haven't made a decision.

I can always swap out and sell whatever I end up with -  off at a later date, but need something to drive my HT for the time being with costs in check.




big_greg

I appreciate the information.  

Given that the Lexicon is a bit aged... 

How old is too old for any amp to exclude them from a candidate?  I know quality of amp matters -- better amps last longer, but looking for general terms... 5 years? 10yrs? 

I will be sure to check out the cinenova amps.

Do you have any other suggestions that would possibly go well with B&Ws CDM9NTs?

I know others have made suggestions but I am always looking for options.  I am watching for deals for used gears, but just haven't seen anything that was earth shattering.

I was considering the Rotel RMB1555 because I can get it for a decent price new... I just don't know if 125w is enough to bring my speakers to life.

Do you have any thoughts on newer Lexicon gears - if they are still good vs the older stuff?






" How old is too old for any amp to exclude them from a candidate? I know quality of amp matters -- better amps last longer, but looking for general terms... 5 years? 10yrs?"


As mentioned earlier, my Acurus amps are pushing 20 years old and still going strong.  Though a recap would not hurt and may be in order sometime in the near future.

Bill