I think the Rega's are going to be a bit laid-back,(Depending on what music you listen to.) The Paradigms are going to give you a bit more bottom end.I would not use speakers that are 20 years old in my main system. They may sound pretty good,I think you will find any decent modern speaker will be a step up.
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The Rega R3's would make for a great match. I am using the Rega Ara (now the R1) in two of my systems and the Aras are both musical and detailed and work well with solid state or tubes. .
If you have a few more dollars to spare, Upscale Audio has a great deal on Opera Platea . $2000 speakers for $1200. A very musical floorstander that I use in a system that has a Rega Apollo in it.
Thanks for the great input.
To throw something else into the mix, I am considering the speaker upgrade, or going with something like a new CD player in the $800-900 range, most likely the Rega Apollo if I can muster the money. So, it will be either newer speakers OR a new CD player. I guess it kind of depends on the philosophy one prescribes to - source is most important or the speakers are the most important. I am a little up in the air, but I am leaning towards the new CD and keeping the Mordaunt-Short oldy but goodies.
So, a different approach to your question, given some reflection.
When I most notice changes, it is usually when I move up to a different level of equipment. So, if you are using a level 5 player and move up to a level 2 player, yes, you will hear a difference and yes, you will most likely appreciate the difference.
What are you using now as a CD Player? With the equipment that you have now, you could introduce a Music Hall MMF 25.2 CD player for about half the price of the Apollo and get similar sonic benefits and have a player that you can continue to use as you upgrade.
If you like the MS speakers, then keep them. In my experience with vintage equipment, most vintage speakers sound best with vintage equipment ... and granted that's not true in all cases. But it's not like we are talking TOTL Mac amps or Quad speakers here.
At the end of the day, you seem to have a nice system that is better than most of the stuff that you see out there. Enjoy it and don't get too hung up on theoretical "limiting my system" questions. Save your cash and make strategic upgrades (moving up in levels).
Great response, I will probably take your advice and keep the Mordaunt-Shorts until I can make a better upgrade "strategically".
To answer your question, I do not have a CD player now, I just plug my iPod into the auxiliary jack on the integrated amplifier and listen to that. This is definitely my weak link, but I am on a budget. I was considering the OPPO 980H, but I do not have a TV and I understand you need one to set it up.
My system does sound nice, but a CD player (the right one) is a soon-to-be-added component, thus I want to make an educated decision.
Thanks again in advance for any advice.
By the way, I just looked at your system and notice you have a Rega Apollo! That is the best sounding CD player I have heard, bar none. Although I have not listened to $5000 or higher CD players, I did listen to a NAIM player and I thought the Apollo sounded better in my opinion. Granted, I was listening to the Apollo with a Rega Brio 3 AND Rega R3 speakers, so there may something to be said for synergy. How do you like your Apollo?
Because budget is key, there are some great deals out there with speakers. Epos 12s, Era Design 4s, Omega Compact Hemps, PSB Alphas are very value oriented and match other speakers at 3 to 5x the price. You should see how they match your music tastes. I personally think the Paradigm Atoms v5 are hard to beat for performance and a steal at $300.
There are some incredible PC/digital systems coming out of the professional musician world. You should audition those as well. Blue Sky Audio (available through Guitar Center) and Audioengine (direct buy) both make incredible enclosed speakers that sound fantastic in small rooms (i.e. bed rooms and dens). I just got a Blue Sky EXO system at Guitar Center for $210 for my college aged son and it totally rocks with an iPod or his Apple. They call it a poor man's ATC Monitors (one of the pro standards) and I was completely blown away by the dynamics per cost ratio. If you like Hip Hop, you will love these. They are just plain fun to listen too--because they are nearfield speakers, you can crank them and not disturb the neighbors.
The absolute best CD player for the money costs $40 on Ebay and is the Sony Playstation 1. Sony threw millions of dollars in overbuilding technology into the first generation player and the audio qualities are every bit as good as the NAIM, Rega and Music Hall CDs. It is one of the few times that the big Japanese got it right. Try it before you trade up. It is a system killer for those in the know and is just now getting a buzz on 6 Moons and Stereophile.
I like the Apollo quite a bit. It is on par with, though slightly different sounding, than a Musical Fidelity A3.2 that I own (inside of a CD PRE 24). Quite frankly, I don't hear the limitations that others have ... I find it to be a very clean sounding and musical sounding player.
To Bongo's response ... be very careful with pairing Omega speakers with anything solid state. I know that Louis partners up with Red Wine, which are digital amps. But I found the Omegas to be wanting with solid state amplifiers from NAD, Musical Fidelity, and vintage Marantz. They sounded best with tubes.
I am looking for a Playstation SCPH-1001 now and they are creeping up in price. Wouldn't I have to have a TV to operate it and set it up? If not, then I will be on the hunt for one soon.
I will check out the speakers you mentioned. The guys I bought my vintage speakers from sell Naim, JM Labs/Focal, Tannoy, Quad, Cambridge Audio, Roksan, Linn, and other high-end brands and they swear by the Mordaunt Shorts that I have. I still can't help but wonder if I bought newer speakers... Anyway, they might have to do for a little while, but I am going to take your advice and listen to the ones you recommended.
Rich is correct on the Omegas. I heard the Omegas on a Red Wine Audio ss rig. I have not heard them on a tube amp. They sounded wonderful--good performance for their size, but Rich has first-hand owner knowledge on how they pair up.
PS: There is nothing wrong with old gear. A lot of it is wonderful. I myself have ATC, Bose, Gallo, Cambridge Audio, Blue Sky Audio, Kef and Paradigm speakers around my house. Each match a different room and mood and how loud or quiet I want to be and the music my collective family plays. I have been in the live touring business for over 25 years and have worked with everybody from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Clash, Bob Dylan and Tony Bennett. My tastes are eclectic but I am very budget minded. My Kefs are 20 years old (bought used: a gift from Pink Floyd and A & M studios) and have not degraded. The Regas I would suspect are cut from the same cloth. I keep wanting to replace them and never find anything that wins me over. They are matched up with vintage gear from that era and I kind of like the retro feel of them when I play vintage records.
I have heard $80 to 150k systems sound terrible in small room environments and $1 to 2k systems sound great. I feel that money does not connote greatness in experience. The British (Rega) and Canadian (PSB, Paradigm) companies seem to get this value equation right out of the box.
Stephen Mejias of Stereophile.com covers lot's of lower priced products within his blog and you can find some nice reviews for budgeted minded buyers. Check out his column before you go out and buy. He just profiled 5 systems for under $1k.