Newbie Part 2


Thank you all for responding to my previous threads. To refresh your memories, I have just purchased Paradigm Studio 100 v2 speakers (used), and have a Harman Kardon AVR-25 Mark II, and a Sony carousel - model CDP-CX300. I received numerous suggestions, and went out today to listen a bit.

I heard the Rotel Rc-1070 pre and the RB-1080 main, and they sounded good (and the "new" price was good, so a used price would be better). I also listened to the Arcam cd73 and was blown away by the difference between that an the cd192.

Previous suggestions for amps include YBA Integre (seems a little low in power to me), Odyssey amps generally, and an Audio Refinement Complete (although the reviews on this were mixed). Also, my local Paradigm dealer sells, among other things, the Anthem amps (of course), and recommends them highly with my speakers (but he didn't have the amp in stock). Can I get a few opinons (many is better) on these amps for my specific speakers if you have any knwoledge and actual experience?

Also, since I always thought cd players were cd players, I was blown away by the Arcam test today. Originally, I was recommended the Audio Aero Prima, the Rega Apollo, and the Prima Luna Prologue. Ideally, I'd like to get a cd play and amp/preamp (or integrated) that will be a significant benefit to my system all for $1500 or under. Not sure if that's possible, but am also looking for cd suggestions (matched with amps) if you're so inclined.

Sorry for the long message, but I'm learning more each day. Thanks for all of your help.
Sorry, put the Prima Luna Prologue in the amp section, and excuse the misspellings. Thanks.
It may be unlikely that you could score both the Prima Luna Prologue 1 or 2 and the Rega Apollo (together between $2200 and $2500 new) for $1500. But you do have some excellent options available to you.

You are correct that not all cd players are alike. If you can audition the Music Hall MMF CD25.2 cd player, you will be genuinely surprised what is available for about $500 or so, brand new. It is a well made and excellent performing CD player. It also pairs together in a very synergistic way with a number of different amps.

Based on my experience with some of the components that you name, I would recommend the following pairings:

NAD C372 integrated and the Music Hall MMF CD 25.2 cd player (list $1200 new)
Music Hall A25.2 integrated and the Music Hall CD 25.2 cd player (list $1200 new)
Prima Luna Prologue 1 and the Music Hall MMF CD25.2 cd player (list $1700 new)

If you could increase your budget to allow for the Prima Luna and the Rega Apollo, you would be pleased as well. I am using the Prologue 2 (with 6550 tubes) and the Apollo with Acoustic Research 302 speakers (3 way; 10 inch woofer; 1995 vintage). The system offers both musicality and detail. I have no desire to upgrade.

Good luck.

Regards, Rich
AA prima mkii cdp...$900-$1100 used.

AA prima mki int. amp...$550 +or- used.

This combonation has worked very well for me in front of my merlins. I`ve done some tube rolling in the prima amp and am now using a vintage 6922 amperex pq white label USA 1960. Great fun.
I'm curious about the mixed reviews on the Audio Refinement Complete that you mentioned. Were these professional reviews? I have only read what I consider favorable professional reviews on this amp. I'd be interested to read another point of view.
Paradigm bought Anthem/Sonic Frontiers a few years ago. There will likely be a certain synergy between Paradigm and Anthem. This is why your dealer is suggesting this.

I have a Anthem CD changer. Although no longer made, it blew away my Audio Refinement CD player by a wide margin.

Don't be missled by power ratings. The YBA is probably quite good. The YBA gear is made in France. The Audio Refinement is Taiwan.$5000(2)-eng/index.html

I didn't find any more.
The audio refinement dispute I was referring to was in my prior thread between 2 people here, but was not based on any amp reviews.
That's what I suspeceted.

I do believe 50wpc is not enough juice to get your Paradigms singing. Look for 100wpc or more.
Oh yeah - a few more things. Part of what started the look for the amp is my current amp at the 9 o'clock setting is mildly loud. I like newer rock/alternative, and often like to boost it. I have also always been told that somewhere between 9:00 and 11:00 is where you should keep the dials. I don't know if this varies from speaker to speaker and amp to amp, but I have generally not gone beyond 10:00. Also, while I don't get all of the techno-jargon (or babble?), I looked at the Stereophile review of the PrimaLuna, and one of the diagrams and explanations (Fig. 5), suggests to me that loud desires may mean trouble for this amp. As always, I am open to further comments/suggestions. Also, no one else comments about the Music Hall Cd player. Any other thoughts on that?
I have also always been told that somewhere between 9:00 and 11:00 is where you should keep the dials.
This has to do with the gain match between the preamp and amp, and is not universal. If you are talking about an integrated amp, it's also not universal. I have often run certain combos in my system at the 3:00 position with clean sound and plenty of headroom. IMO, the "11:00 Rule" is often suggested to people who are using low power or mid-fi solid state electronics.
The Music Hall CD 25.2 is my current "real-world" favorite CD player with its' rhythmic handling of music. Bass ok, even-handed midrange, highs not shrill. Coupled with a decent DAC is a small improvment, coupled with a Whest digital gizmo at 3 times the price of the 25.2 is a better step up and at a total price of about $2300 is hard to beat until the $6000 range as next step up. Multiple other CD players out there from $1,000-$2500 not a real improvment and sometimes worse. I personally do not much care for the current MF amplifiers but the CD is a winner. Let us know what you find out, Mike.
Be careful about the Audio Aero Prima MK II CDP's .
Quite a few had serious transport problems . Mine went in for it's third transport when AA finally sent me a new MK III ! They are very good people to deal with and honor their warranty well as does their N.A. distributor , Globe.
The new MK III's have the new Sony transport .
To be fair , there are those whom have not had any problems at all . YMMV.
I also had the AA Prima hybrid integrated amp that was mentioned above . It is quite a good piece ! Hard to find but worth the effort .
Cheapmike - You said "Coupled with a decent DAC is a small improvment, coupled with a Whest digital gizmo at 3 times the price of the 25.2 is a better step up and at a total price of about $2300 is hard to beat until the $6000 range as next step up."

Sorry, but I'm a little slow. It sounds like you are suggesting buying a separate DAC (using the MH as a transport only?) such as one built by Whest?
Blewis1041, to expand just a bit on amplifier requirements, Stereophile
measurements say the Paradigm 100 has 89.5db sensitivity...let's say
90db. However, even though the speakers have an 8 ohm nominal
impedance, there is a significant impedance dip to 2.5 ohms at 104 Hz.

To drive these to 110 db peaks at 8 ohms/1 watt/ 1 meter requires 128
watts, but to drive these at 110 db at 2.5 ohms/ 1 watt/ 1 meter
requires nearly 500 watts.

Now, if you listen at lower volume peaks, the power requirement is less,
e.g. 64 wpc at 107 db peaks, 8 ohms/1w/1m.

So, you can see your Paradigms require some juice to get going, and
they definitely require an amplifier that doubles it's power output into 4
ohms and quadruples it's output into 2 ohms, otherwise the volume at
the frequency ranges where there are impedance dips (like the 104 Hz
measurement) will be lower in relation to other frequencies...leading the
sound to appear emphasized in the mids and highs.
Thanks, Tvad. Any ideas what would fit those specs and a reasonable price? Anyone else?
Define reasonable price.

I believe in your other thread I mentioned the Odyssey Audio Stratos or
Stratos Extreme stereo or monoblock amplifiers. I'd reiterate these
products, and I'd add an Odyssey Audio preamplifier. The amps come up
for sale used, and they are a stunning value. High current power
delivery...just what you need. As an alternative, you could call Klaus
directly (the owner of Odyssey Audio) and talk with him. He works with
customers, if you know what I mean. ;)

Also, the Unison Unico SE is a tube/SS hybrid integrated worth
considering. 140 wpc into 8 ohms. I cannot find any power specs into 4
or 2 ohms, however, so it's a qualified recommendation. There is a used
one available now for under $2000.
I was thinking $1200 or less. Actually, I was thinking a lot less, but I'm not sure that's reasonable. I think I've pretty much decided on the Rega Apollo for the cd player when I find all this money I plan to spend.
I'll bet you could get a used Stratos stereo amp and Odyssey preamp (or
other preamp), or a used Unico SE for near $1200. Maybe a couple
hundred more.

Another great option is the Portal Panache integrated. 100wpc into 8
ohms, 200 wpc into 4 ohms. You can occasionally find them used for
less than $1200. If you're patient and see one, then snap it up.

Also, for less than $500, you could add a tubed DAC to your Sony
changer by utilizing the Sony CDP-CX300 optical output. DACs from this E-Bay seller
are getting lots of positive buzz from folks over at AudioCircle who are
using them. Of course, this would be in lieu of a new CD player.

If you have decided on the Apollo ($1000 new) and are serious about keeping to a $1500 or so budget, I would look at a NAD C372 integrated ($700 new) at 150 wpc.

Regards, Rich
Tvad and Rar thanks. As for the DAC Tvad spoke of about, how does that connect to the carousel? With interconnects? Hard wiring?

As for the Apollo, I have seen them used for about $750, but I have also seen things that suggest the first few that came off the line had issues, so maybe new is the way to go. It also seems, like the Stratos, that it takes a while to warm up.
11-07-06: Blewis1041
Tvad and Rar thanks. As for the DAC Tvad spoke of about, how does that connect to the carousel? With interconnects? Hard wiring?
It connects with one Toslink cable. Glass Toslink cables are available on Audiogon used, or new from as little as $20. Check the back of your Sony changer. I believe it has an optical digital output. This is the Toslink output.

All amplifiers with a good amount of capacitance should be warmed up for at least a half an hour...but it's not required. This is not restricted to the Stratos. Many people leave their SS amplifiers powered on 24/7. High capacitance is one factor that enables an amplifier to deliver lots of current into low impedance you require.
I think that some of the issues reported about the first Apollo production runs had to do with misunderstanding some of the Apollo's internal logic. When you put in any disc the Apollo does the following ... 1. shows as "INITIALIZING" in the display, 2. then shows the track number and track time, 3. then you have to press "play" to make it start. This whole process takes a few seconds. Also, the Apollo does not recognize CD-R's that have been recorded at greater than 8X speed.

As for warming up your components ... a half hour is nice to get the best sound. Most times I am lucky if I give it more than a few minutes, though I rarely listen closely to the first CD that I pop in, so I guess that it works out.

Regards, Rich