Peachtree Nova 65SE versus Cambridge Audio Topaz SR20

Hi all, 

I'm looking to build my first hi-fi system. I listen to mainly jazz and classical music. I picked up a pair of Martin Logan Motion 40 speakers for $499 each today at Amazon. (Freakishly low price for some reason.) 

I was looking at getting a stereo receiver and was recommended either the Peachtree Nova 65SE or the Cambridge Audio Topaz SR20.

Any thoughts on which would be a better choice?


My vote is for the Peachtree.  I have owned product from both brands, and they are both nicely made, but I feel that the Nova will be a little higher end than the Cambridge in this case.  The tube preamp stage is a nice touch.  The DAC in the Nova sounds good.  Your speakers are quite sensitive at 92 dB and the Peachtree goes to 95 watts in 4 ohms.  A big red flag on the Cambridge is that the literature mentions only 8 ohms and does not say anything about 4 ohms.  This is an issue as your speakers present a 4 ohm load.  The Peachtree will drive the 4 ohm speakers fine.  The Peachtree delivers fewer bells and whistles and costs a bit more.  This is also telling.  If you're after great sound, less is more in an amplifier is usually a good way to go.

What are you using for a source?  CD player?  Computer?  Turntable?
Thanks, Mark! I was leaning towards the Peachtree and you just made it easier. 

My primary music source is my iPod (and files purchased on iTunes), which I was going to connect through the USB port. About 10% of my music is on CDs (jazz and classical) and for that I was looking to buy the Onkyo C-7030 single disc CD player. I believe that has a Digital-to-Analog converter in it as well. 

What are your thoughts on the new Peachtree Nova150? Would it be a better fit with the speakers? Or would it be too loud?
Well, two things to consider.  One is the source for the music as the iPod and the other being the more powerful amp.  95 watts with 92 dB sensativity speakers is plenty of power.  I play my 89 dB speakers with a 100 watt amp and I can rock out pretty well.  More power is usually a good thing, but in your case, I think any extra cash should be on the source, not the amp.

in general, an uncompressed digital source will sound best, and, you want your source device (iPod in your case) to output a fully digital signal so that the DAC in the Peachtree amp can process the signal rather than the rinky dink DAC in the iPod.  Unfortunately the iPod will not output a digital signal on its own.  You can't connect it via USB to the Peachtree without a special dock that can extract a pure digital signal from the iPod, which are available.

my advice is to go another way. Skip the CD player.  Rip your CDs at an uncompressed setting on a computer, sell the CD collection and sell any CD player you have.  Use the iPod for your car and walking around. 

now you have to get the music from the computer hard drive and iTunes to the Peachtree.  To do this you will need s streaming device.  Look into Bluesound node, Sonos connect, Apple TV.  All will handle regular resolution uncompressed cd files, but only the Bluesound node will handle high resolution music if you get into that down the road.  I also recommend experimenting with Tidal HiFi. At $15 per month it is more expensive than Apple Music, but it streams all of the music at uncompressed cd quality, which iTunes and the others do not.  If you have the budget for a Bluesound node or node 2 and a network connected hard drive, you are really set up nicely.  You'll have your own collection and 4 million CDs in the form of a Tidal HiFi subscription.

let me know if you have any other questions as of course there are several ways to configure a setup like this.  You could skip the Bluesound node altogether and use a computer if that is convenient.
Very interesting! I have Apple TV. I could look into just streaming through that. I have not heard of Bluesound Node or Tidal Hi-Fi. Will have to read more about them. 

But, isn't there a loss of fidelity with the streaming? My understanding was that "wired" devices transmit information more effectively than wireless ones, and thus produce better sound.

And what sort of devices extract a digital signal from the ipod?

(Thanks for your time, Mark! This is an informative discussion.) 
 You're welcome, I'm glad to help!

 Streaming doesn't necessarily imply wireless. Streaming simply means moving the data off the hard drive or Internet to a device such as a DAC and then playing via the audio system.   So in my system I have my CDs ripped to a hard drive,  and the computer  streams the music to the DAC  and finally to the  amplifiers.   Whether the music begins from the hard drive or from the music service such as Tidal,  it still needs to move from the computing device to the amplifier. You can do this wirelessly or with cables.  Mine looks like this:

Tidal music service (Internet) - computer - Roon software - DAC - amplifiers.  All with cables, no wireless.  The same thing happens with my cd collection, but that starts from a hard drive, not the Internet.

There  are a select few iPod docks that extract the digital information rather than the music already converted to analog.   I believe Wadia  makes an affordable one, and there might be one or two other brands. You have to research which docks could extract a digital signal from the iPod, it shouldn't be that difficult, but most not do this.

Here is a link to that Wadia iPod dock used, with digital output: