Where do I go next with my system?

Hi,

Over the years, I have gone through a lot of gear, but I haven’t really made a substantive change to my stereo system. I have always been a headphone guy, and I do most of my listening on my HD650’s or Audeze LCD-3’s. A big part of the attraction of headphones to me has been that it’s far cheaper to achieve a very high level of sound quality compared to speakers. A $400 headphone amplifier with a $400 pair of headphones gives you more bang for your buck than a $400 integrated and a $400 pair of speakers, I’m sure many of you would agree. Of course, headphone listening isn‘t the same as speaker listening, but you get what I mean.

I would like to start to do more listening on my actual stereo, which, since 2012 or so, has been a Marantz 2275 from 1976 and a pair of Paradigm Mini Monitor v.7 speakers (around $550 new) on stands. Earlier this year, I added a Carver CT-7 preamp, as I desperately wanted a remote volume control, and I‘m now only using the Marantz as a power amplifier. It sounds good, but something is missing. I think it’s mostly detail, when I compare it to how my headphones sound. The Marantz has been a very trusty receiver and I haven’t had any problems with it (knock on wood), but I have a (possibly irrational) fear of turning it on and leaving it on for 8 hours, when I’m only going to be listening to music for a few of those hours. I checked the DC offset and it’s spot on, but I’m sure there are at least some components from 44 years ago that are not quite in spec anymore.

I like the sound signature of the Paradigm monitors a lot; they remind me somewhat of my HD-650‘s. I tried a pair of JBL 530’s for about a month last year. They were new and exciting, but I found the sound more fatiguing over time and not as engaging. As it stands, I’m not quite sure where to go first in terms of upgrades. My instinct is to upgrade the amplification area, as I think the age of the receiver is what makes me the most uncomfortable with using the system. Even if the speakers don’t scale up very much with it, I could upgrade those later. Now, do I buy something like a Yamaha A-S801 new? Or, do I spend a few hundred more and buy something well-regarded in good condition, say, 10 years old, that was a few grand when it was new? I’m more inclined to go with the latter option. I want whatever I end up getting to be something I keep for the next decade or so.

I’m more wary of upgrading my speakers at the moment, as that’s far likelier to drastically change the sound than new amplification.

Maybe you have a different idea! Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Ben
 

DC

Active Member
It reads to me that the amp may be your weak link, especially if you've got a competent preamp and you like the speakers. And Mr. SD's suggestion of the Counterpoint amp listed nearby is a most excellent suggestion.
 
I just took a look at that Counterpoint amp, it is quite nice looking and certainly tempting! To be honest, though, I’m not completely enamored with my Carver preamp. The remote it came with doesn’t work properly, so I’m forced to use my giant 2000-era Sony universal AV remote. The motorized volume control is also noisy when turning in one direction. I’ve always liked the idea of a modern integrated amplifier. I’m trying to see if there’s any reasons I can find to talk myself out of this Simaudio Moon:


It‘s more than I’d like to spend, but it seems to fit what I want both sonically and aesthetically. I also haven’t come across a bad review of it. It’s only about 10 years old, and was serviced 4 years ago, which is a plus.
 

DC

Active Member
I'm not able to view that thread, but Simaudio/Moon is really good stuff, and I'd bet that integrated would solve both the pre and amp problems as well as bring even more to the table. Is it a classified ad? (I'm not a paying subscriber there, so perhaps I don't have permission to view.) What's the price?
 
I'm not able to view that thread, but Simaudio/Moon is really good stuff, and I'd bet that integrated would solve both the pre and amp problems as well as bring even more to the table. Is it a classified ad? (I'm not a paying subscriber there, so perhaps I don't have permission to view.) What's the price?
Oops, sorry! I forgot that I just got access to the classified section there a few weeks ago, I believe you have to have a certain amount of posts before you’re able to do so. Here is the Audiogon listing for the same piece:

 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I agree that your weak link is your amp and I’d recommend an integrated made sometime since the year, say, 2005.

I had a friend replace a Yamaha AS-501 with an NAD C320bee and loved the improvement FWIW.

The mid range of NAD integrated amps (above the 320) sounds really good for the money.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I personally didn’t like the Simaudio/Moon gear I’ve auditioned but it’s totally subjective. I found it to be kind of too clean and sterile for my taste.
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I personally didn’t like the Simaudio/Moon gear I’ve auditioned but it’s totally subjective. I found it to be kind of too clean and sterile for my taste.
Agreed. It’s quality equipment, very well designed and built. But it’s just a bit meh sounding.
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I agree that your weak link is your amp and I’d recommend an integrated made sometime since the year, say, 2005.

I had a friend replace a Yamaha AS-501 with an NAD C320bee and loved the improvement FWIW.

The mid range of NAD integrated amps (above the 320) sounds really good for the money.
Agree again.
Nad gear just manages to make music, and for a very reasonable price.
 
That’s interesting that neither of you liked the sound of Simaudio gear! I wonder if ”clean and sterile” could be a positive in my case, or if I also wouldn’t like it. As you said, though, it’s all subjective!

I‘ve heard very good things about the sound of NAD gear as well. My concern is mainly reliability, it seems like I’ve read a disproportionate amount of stories that involved them needing some kind of repair. Maybe it’s just my perception. I picked up a (not too old) NAD integrated at a thrift shop last year, and the DC offset was I believe close to 100mv. I didn’t even listen to it. Of course, that‘s one thrift shop amp and likely not indicative of the brand as a whole, but it does give me pause.

I told the seller of the Simaudio that I’m considering it and got his PayPal in case I decide on it tonight. Hmm...decisions decisions
 
So you need a power amp to go with your Carver preamp and Paradigm speakers. What is you budget range?
That’s a good idea, but I really think I’m strongly leaning towards an integrated at this point. I’d say I’m looking in the $500-$1000 range, preferably on the lower side of that. I’m just a bit stuck on that Simaudio for some reason!
 

S0und Dragon

Junior Member
If dull looks do not bother you (looking at you NAD) I would recommend giving Rogue audio a look. The Sphinx May be found in budget used.
 

Mortsnets

Junior Member
used integrated amps I would be looking at in your price range:
croft phono integrated
schiit ragnarok
heed elixir
rogue sphinx
exposure 2010
 
Last edited:
If dull looks do not bother you (looking at you NAD) I would recommend giving Rogue audio a look. The Sphinx May be found in budget used.
I was just looking at those actually! They look interesting and the looks don’t bother me. How do you think it would compare to the Simaudio?
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
That’s interesting that neither of you liked the sound of Simaudio gear! I wonder if ”clean and sterile” could be a positive in my case, or if I also wouldn’t like it. As you said, though, it’s all subjective!

I‘ve heard very good things about the sound of NAD gear as well. My concern is mainly reliability, it seems like I’ve read a disproportionate amount of stories that involved them needing some kind of repair. Maybe it’s just my perception. I picked up a (not too old) NAD integrated at a thrift shop last year, and the DC offset was I believe close to 100mv. I didn’t even listen to it. Of course, that‘s one thrift shop amp and likely not indicative of the brand as a whole, but it does give me pause.

I told the seller of the Simaudio that I’m considering it and got his PayPal in case I decide on it tonight. Hmm...decisions decisions
NADs unreliability stories are based on their vintage gear. This is basically a totally new company. Lenbrook bought them decades ago and dramatically improved things.
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
used integrated amps I would be looking at in your price range:
croft phono integrated
schiit ragnarok
heed elixir
rogue sphinx
exposure 2010
Of those, and I’ve heard pretty well all of them, I’d get the Exposure. That’s a truly magnificent little amp. Don’t just take my word for it. Check out what Art Dudley has to say:

 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
That’s a good idea, but I really think I’m strongly leaning towards an integrated at this point. I’d say I’m looking in the $500-$1000 range, preferably on the lower side of that. I’m just a bit stuck on that Simaudio for some reason!
Don’t worry. One listen will get you unstuck fast. :)

I have a friend who is a big Simaudio dealer. Sells Naim and Exposure too, amongst so many others. What does he sell to His brand agnostic customers? What does he have at home? What does his extended family use? Yup. Exposure.
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
And in fairness, Arts review of the competing Simaudio integrated.
 
Top