Next Upgrade to My Totem Arros Setup - Need Help


I need your expert help in upgrading my stereo set-up. I like my current set-up immensely.

My System: Totem Arros, Primaluna Prologue 2, Signal Cable, Hero Inter Connects, old Sony DVD/CD Player.

My upgrade plan is to add a CD Player & Sub-Woofer.

CD Player Options: Rega Appollo, Naim CD5i, CA Azur 840C, Cairn fog V2 (not easily available), Simaudio Moon Equinox , Sony dvp-ns999es, any good tubed CDP (All Pre-Owned)

Sub-Woofer Options: REL Strata III, REL Storm III

So I need your help for the following questions:

1. Which change will make more positive impact on the sound system....CDP or Sub ? ( I will go with the second upgrade few months down the lane ).

2. If CDP needs to be upgraded, what would you recommend between Naim, Rega, CA, Cairn Fog, sim and tubed cdps for my system (primaluna 2 and Arros) ? I like warm organic music with excellent vocals, instruments and strings with good BASS. Just want to remind again that I am using tube integrated (primaluna 2) for getting the warm preso and planning to add REL Sub for the quality BASS.

3. Since I already have a tube integrated in the line, should I be looking for a CDP that delivers excellent PRaT and Bass like Nait CD5i / Simaudio (or) more warm presentation of Rega (or) more warmer tubed cd players?

4. I read great reviews of 840C and it was being compared to Naim CD5i. I would like to know the system harmony of CA 840C with Primaluna 2 and Totem Arros for my music ?

5. Since I would like to add more Quality BASS (using REL), which of these CDPs make more sense ?

6. How does a modestly priced Sony dvp-ns999es (pre-owned) compete with the likes of Naim, Sim, Rega, etc ?

I will be eagerly awaiting your feedback for improving my 2 channel system. Thanking you all in advance

I used equinox with the forests(also i3 amp)with very good results.Sim and totem...good combo.imho.

Since you will be adding a sub to get your bass needs, I'd go with the source that has the most neutral tonal character.

Believe it or not; Arcam CD players would likely yield better results with your current rig, than say the Apollo or Naim players. The Apollo will sound a bit flat in that system. The Naim by contrast will be a bit tilted in the top end. Arcam will be a great middle ground between the two on that rig. Unfortunately, I haven't yet heard the much talked about Cambridge piece.

I have nothing to add with your choice of sub. REL makes fantastic musical sub's that will have no problem matching the speed of the Arro. Totem's own STORM is also another good option.

Thanks for the recommendation. Can you please explain why you think Apollo will be flat in the system ? Is it bcoz Apollo is warm and little laid back and Primaluna is also warm and that makes them a bit flat ? Based on the same reason, isn't Naim supposed to kick it up with its speed, bass and timing and make it more lively and the Primaluna can soften the top end ?


PS: I have seen many people actually recommnd Naim CD5i / Nait5i combo for Arros. That combo should more tilted in the top end right ?

Thanks for your feedback

If price is an issue the Simaudio Equinox SE is on clearance at Music Direct for $1795. That is a great buy especially considering you are getting a full 10 year warranty on the electronics and 3 on the transport. Check it out on
A nice DAC with an older Sony CDP X77EX transport will bring you to the sound you are looking for. Nice warm top to bottom with an o p e n & a i r y soundstage. Addictive music no fatigue, just beautiful music. i am currently using a Krell Stealth dac to Sony CDP X77ES transport and the combo is magic. Everytime i try to go different cdp routes from the Sony I end up pissed that I did. Bottom line is that it is one of the most musical cdp's you can find. The dac adds the magic
i used to own the totem arros, great speakers. i also used a rel strata III with my totem model 1's with great success. i did use it with my arros for a short time and it fit well there too. in my room, i put the arros in the corners and it had plenty of bass for a 12x13ft room. as for a cd player, i would stay away from the sony's, too cool sounding. a nice cheap player was the phillips 963sa cd/sacd/dvd player with 96/192 specs. i have a couple around the house (i also have the sony dvp9000 that i don't use anymore) that sound very nice. if you have the money, i use a classe cdp-10 player in my audio room that got great reviews ands sounds fantastic. you can pick 1 up for around $1300 used.

Thanks for your valuable suggestions. You seem to be saying ...dont use SONYs...and at the same time looks like you have a couple of SONY cd players like sony dvp9000. Do you recommend sony dvp9000 ???

Also, Classe CDP-10 seems to be over my budget. How would you describe classe's presentation and how does it rate compared to Naim CD5i, Rega Apollo and CA 840C ?

i used the sony as a 1 player that did all in my setup but i used an external tube dac for cd. the sony is very good at sacd and dvd/video, but its cd playback is on the cool side. even when i auditioned the 777 and sacd-1, i didn't like the cool side cd playback, even with playing with the filters. the philips 963sa has a much better cd output. hifi+ did a big article on this a couple of years ago. as for the classe cd player, i liked it much better over the naim units i auditioned and the apollo unit, didn't look at the ca 840c. this classe unit was rated very favorable in all the reviews and i still prefer it to the new classe players. i used to own the cdp 1.5 classe unit, but the cdp-10 is better than that 1. since it is a fully balanced player, along with my other balanced classe pieces, using balanced interconnects is a plus.
i will be setting up another alternative to using a cd player in my audio room and that is using a central music server. i currently have a whole house music server setup for everywhere but my dedicated audio room. i use an apple computer along with airport express units, then i have anti-jitter devices hooked up to the airport express units, then the signal goes to an external dac. the manley dac i will be using in m audio room cost as much as the cd player and sounds fantastic.
Any comments from owners of Naim CD5i, Rega Apollo, Cairn Fog and CA Azur 840C would be very helpful.

I don't have the Arros but I have the Sttafs. They are perfect with my Naim system.

Do you mind giving the details of your system ?

If you are using Naim CD5i, how is the bass and timing from CD5i ? I read somewhere saying that Naim CD5i does not have very good control of the bass and also top end may be tipped up. Can you wiegh in your observations ?

Naim and Totem go very well together. But that doesn't mean that a CD5i will pair up well with your PrimaLuna. Also keep in mind that the Arros are a very difficult speaker to drive. I don't think adding a sub will make them much easier to drive. That doesn't mean they won't sound better with a sub though.

The best way to tell which CD player will work the best is to demo them with your system, or find a dealer who has a similar system.

Honestly, all the CD players you mentioned are very good. Everyone will have their preferences, and that's what really seperates most of them. The SimAudio Equinox SE that was mentioned is the best of the bunch. Keep in mind it also initially sold for twice what the others sold for. IMO it'll probably fit the best in your system as well. Its got everything the others do, and probably has the least sonic signature, which makes it easier to fit into more systems. Just my opinions though.

Also, the new CD5i (italic i) is significantly better than the old CD5i, which was very good as well. The bass in the old version was slightly uncontrolled, but not much. I don't think the highs were tipped up; I think its leading edges were a little sharp, which made it seem brighter. The new CD5i addressed these issues pretty well IMO. It sounds more like a CD5x than the old CD5i if that's any indication.

Replace the CDP first.

I listened to the Naim CD5i with the Arros using a Nait 5i integrated and it sounded good although the room was probably too big for the speakers. The Totem Forests sounded better with that pairing. I think that the CD5i could sound extremely good with the PrimaLuna amp and the Arros in the right sized space.

I own a Cambridge 640C and really like it in combination with a fairly forward but highly resolving ss amp and hard to drive sealed bookshelf speakers. The 840C is a noticeable step up with better DACs, parts and upsampling. I have only heard it briefly, but it is much better than anything they have done previously.

Overall, I think both the Naim or Cambridge would mate well with the Totems and PrimaLuna, and I think you would notice an improvement right away. The Maim is going to boogie a little harder and get your toes tapping. The 840C is going to paint a prettier sound picture with more delicate textures and nuances. I predict both the Cambridge and Naim will do a much better job with the bass than your current player.

Everyone seem to say Arros are difficult to drive...particularly for a tube amp. I took a chance and bought primaluna 2 and trust me....Primaluna drives Arros without any hint of strain for the levels i listen at and for my room ( 13x16x8 )...i am not using more than 25% of the volume on my amp. That itself completely envelopes my listening area with such warm organic pleasant music. For that matter I feel it has enough bass as well. But i surely do know that RELs will add so much to this musical presentation of Arros.

At this point there are votes for Naim CD5i (italic i) and CA 840C as well. Surprising that no one has recommended Appollo at all.

JR & Knownothing: Since I have a tube integrated amp which can make the sound warm and lush, do you recommend warmer sounding CDP or a little bit forwarding sounding CDP ? I was thinking a little bit forward sounding CDP may bring the balance. But I am not sure.

The Apollo is probably the best sub $1000 players around. But you just stuck it in a league with two more expensive players, and they sound better to me.

Lots of people describe Naim gear as "forward". You could look at it that way, but in my experience Naim gear is just tremendously musical and almost "bouncy" sounding. If you listen carefully, you will notice that some of the detail and air is not there compared to other equipment, but it times so well you will get lost in the rhythm and forget about the details. Anybody who craves the melodiousness of tube equipment will understand this kind of trade off. If PRAT is your thing above all else, I would go with the Naim.

The Cambridge will provide loads more detail, but will frame it in a musical picture. Not detail for detail's sake, but reproduce the details as they were recorded in terms of time and loudness better than most machines at this price point.

Here's a way to look at it, if you like to dance and listen to rock, R&B or Hip Hop after drinking a few beers, get the Naim. If you prefer to sit in you music room with a nice glass of chardonnay and listen to the subtle details and textures present in chamber music or well recorded vocal jazz, I would go for the Cambridge (or the Simaudio for that matter which is even more polite). Both the Naim and the Cambridge will comport themselves well on the other player's turf, but they have both have their specific strengths.

Playing these CDPs through your very capable tube amp will tend to round out and reduce some of these differences as compared to a more detail oriented SS amplifier, but the differences will still be real and noticeable.

You makes your choice and you pays your money.

PS - REL sub is a great idea, even if you rarely actually "hear" it. It will fill out the sound of Arros and add spatial cues you didn't realize were missing - I would just do that after the CDP upgrade.
I agree with pretty much everything Mike said. I can't comment on which will synergize better with the PrimaLuna, because I've never heard it. As far as using a brighter sounding CD player to liven up a warm amp, warmer CDP to smooth something out, etc., my experience has been that it doesn't always work out that way. On paper it seems like a good idea. It may actually work, but don't take for granted that it will. There's no subsititue for an in home audition, or at the very least an audition at a dealer's. I've found that when there's no synergy, the system isn't very satisfying and people look to make changes sooner than later. When there's synergy, the system performs better than the sum of the parts.

Rel makes awsome subs, and it'll most likely be very worthwhile. I'm more of a source first guy (not die-hard, but there's a lot of merit to it), so I'd get that straightened out before proceeding.

JR & Knownothing,

Thanks for your explanation and an excellent analogy for Naim and CA 840C / Simaudio sonic signature. Similarly do you mind giving analogy for a Rega Apollo CDP ?

I included Apollo, CA 840C and Naim CD5i as the options, because on Audiogon, the price difference between rega and Naim / CA 840C is couple of hundred bucks.

The Apollo is a capable player, no question, and probably between the Naim and Cambridge in personality. My brief comparison of the Apollo with the other two would be that it is a less musical but more detailed Naim 5i, or a more dynamic but less polished Cambridge 840C. I don't care for the plastic face plate on the Apollo, but that is a rather minor detail.

Check out these links - quite a bit has already been written about the player.

Can you please explain why you think Apollo will be flat in the system ?

Hello Mike,

The Apollo is a fine CD player. I like its unique design, its transport mechanism, and the fact that it uses its own software.

However, its character is something I would summarize as being dark and flat. Although it is difficult to argue its ability to get ones foot tapping in the right system; it's dark persona combined with a relatively flat dynamic range and general lack of refinement won't serve your system well.

Despite their puny size, the Arro's are lively speakers that can convey copious levels of acoustic energy. I say, treat them to a linear source that will bring out the best in what your current crop of gear can do.

The Rega Apollo is good, no doubt, but in my opinion - its not where you should be looking.

Classe CDP-10 seems to be over my budget. How would you describe classe's presentation and how does it rate compared to Naim CD5i, Rega Apollo and SimAudio Equinox ?

the naim and rega sounded pretty dull to me compared to the cdp-10. i like a warm sound but with detail. i did listen to the simaudio eclipse when looking at the classe unit and i liked the classe better. i like simaudio equipment but prefer classe. the cdp-10 comes with hdcd capability and i have quite a few of these discs (jazz). also, i have an external dac that cost more than the cdp-10 and i prefer the sound coming straight from the cdp-10. the dac is used for other digital audio sources. the best bet would be for you to audition the different players with your equipment in your room to see which 1 you prefer. i will go out on a limb here and suggest the philips 963sa unit over the naim and apollo, it is that good especially at the price you can get them for. 5 channels, upsampling, sacd, dvd, etc... check out the hifi+ review on it a couple years back. they put in a couple thousand $$$ worth of modifications to it and at the end, they said just to add new feet and a power cord. if you can't afford the cdp-10 now, get a philips for the interim until you can get what you want. then move the philips to another room.

Do you mind giving the details of your system ?

If you are using Naim CD5i, how is the bass and timing from CD5i ? I read somewhere saying that Naim CD5i does not have very good control of the bass and also top end may be tipped up. Can you wiegh in your observations ?

Any feedback please ?


I have listened to a Cambridge Audio 640 (amplifier/cd player) combo with a pair of Arro in a local Totem dealer. The bass is tight and clean. The midrange is quite revealing. Pretty good for a system that cost less than $2.5K (Arro speakers included)

# 1, I recommend to go with a quality solid state CDP first. Then save money for a decent sub like REL or TOTEM STORM.

# 2, Naim CD player is recommended to me by Vince at TOTEM and I just pass on the courtesy.

# 3, I think you want more bass, so see my answer on your # 2.

# 4, only you know the answer.

# 5, You have a tube amp which is already warm. Why need another tube CDP? The bass produced will not be that good as a good solid state CDP like the Naim/Rega.

# 6, I suggest Denon if you want a Japanese brand. Otherwise, my choice would be NAD, Rega, and NAIM (low fi budget, mid fi budget, and hi fi budget in that order)

The sub should be your last issue. I am a TOTEM/NAD guy myself and I own a pair of REL and a pair of TOTEM STORM.

Hope that helps.