• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Advice on integrated amp for Wharfedale Diamonds 230

Which amp for the Diamonds?

  • Yamaha R-N803D

  • Cambridge CXA61

  • Cambridge Azur 851

  • Older used amp (such as NAD C370)


Results are only viewable after voting.

escksu

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Messages
839
Likes
322
I would put my money on a Cambridge Audio amp. I still remember around 20yrs ago when Cambridge Audio started making budget CD players and integrated amps. They really had amazing performance for the price. I still remember auditioning the a Cambridge Audio (CD player + Amp) against the MArantz one. The price was similar but the cambridge audio is clearly superior.
 

linuxfan

Active Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2019
Messages
114
Likes
65
I'm more than happy to believe that you or anyone else can hear differences that I can't.
Well I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the "audio scientists" on this forum are reasonably polite. That's a good start.

But I still think that you're fooling yourself if you don't verify your impressions by listening blind.
What the !? It's like saying I can't know for sure if I like apples more than pears without special testing methods, and hard data. Sure, there might be some scientific and measurable difference which explains the taste difference, confirmed by blind testing, but it's inconsequential to my enjoyment of apples!
The real truth of the matter lies with those who cannot tell the difference, and want me to give them measurements - to help them understand, or possibly enhance their eating enjoyment!

There are plenty of MEANINGFUL differences in sound. For example, the other day, the Holst Planets was playing over the radio on my decidedly not high-end system. It sounded quite bad. I looked up the particular recording, and found that many reviews of it on amazon complained about the poor sound quality.
Well, yes, the engineering and mastering of an album is a critical element. For anyone interested, you can read about my listening test of Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees original Japanese pressing vs. 1990 remaster here -
https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/thre...aggs-silk-degrees.305692/page-5#post-27564439
But the hifi system you listen to good recordings on can absolutely enhance your listening experience.

Changing amps will NOT change the sound.
What the !? Maybe that's what the "science" on ASR says. But it's not what my human ears hear, neither the ears of many music lovers I have shared listening sessions with over many years.
But it's encouraging to read that the vast majority of posts in this thread do not follow the same notion.
 
OP
brotakul

brotakul

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
18
Some update:
I feel some people here would say I “went dark without disclosing his 'final answer'” :D. It might as well seem so, I guess..

Like I said earlier in this thread, I plan for this purchase in the next couple of months, so I’m not hard pressed to take rushed decisions, I just want to make up my mind the best I can until then.

On the other hand, in the rushed decisions dept…., I stumbled upon the last piece of Topping D10s DAC in stock in my country that I was able to find and I felt it would be foolish from me not to snatch it, at a modest discount. So I did, and today I expect delivery.
It sure is as much as I would ever allow myself to spend on a separate DAC and it won’t go unused either way, since, if things turn in a different way for the Wharfedales setup, I also have a pair of active speakers in a secondary location that would make great use of the Topping DAC + Pi combo for streaming music.

Now, some (Hanz?) say the PI 3b+ has noisy USB output (if used as transport for music to an external DAC such as the Topping), probably since the USB and the Ethernet use a common bus, and the PI 4 would then be a better option, but since the PI 4 seems to experience a great shortage these days and I do have a PI 3b+ laying around, I’ll sattle with this for the moment.

As for the Wharfedales, I guess the addition of the Topping would not hurt either way, since now I feel less pressed to go for an amp+streamer combo such as the Yamaha R-N series, but even if I do, the Topping won’t be a step down from the ESS9006as in the 803d. Plus, I’m also considering a slow development on the separates setup including a miniDSP 2x4, which some of you guys kindly recommended here, which would then render the YMH 803d useless. So I guess I’m hoping for a win-win here, in the sense that now I have options.
 
Last edited:
OP
brotakul

brotakul

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
18
(Final?) update: I stumbled upon an NAD C325BEE that I could test before buying (used) and after a few hours I closed the deal and I have to say… the NAD is the right amp for me. Even with a rated power of 50wpc, this “little” amp delivers in spades! The dynamics are there, the way I remember from auditioning the NAD 319 and the warm and powerful but clean sound is to my taste. Probably the 290w toroidal transformer is up to more than what other amps can deliver, but I trust my ears and I can say it’s a great match and this amp drives my speakers better than the Yamaha R-N301 ever did. It’s probably nothing close to the 319’s raw power, but it’s as close as possible in the sound dept. and it’s definitely more than enough for my smallish livingroom.
So there you have it, a happy audiophile at last :D
So the setup now is:
Wharfedale Diamond 230, NAD C325BEE, Topping D10s, Pi 3B+ for streaming (which I’ll upgrade to the Pi4 when the current shortage goes away).
 
Last edited:

Doodski

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
8,262
Likes
7,699
Location
Canada
(Final?) update: I stumbled upon an NAD C325BEE that I could test before buying (used) and after a few hours I closed the deal and I have to say… the NAD is the right amp for me. Even with a rated power of 50wpc, this “little” amp delivers in spades! The dynamics are there, the way I remember from auditioning the NAD 319 and the warm and powerful but clean sound is to my taste. Probably the 290w toroidal transformer is up to more than what other amps can deliver, but I trust my ears and I can say it’s a great match and this amp drives my speakers better than the Yamaha R-N301 ever did. It’s probably nothing close to the 319’s raw power, but it’s as close as possible in the sound dept. and it’s definitely more than enough for my smallish livingroom.
So there you have it, a happy audiophile at last :D
So the setup now is:
Wharfedale Diamond 230, NAD C325BEE, Topping D10s, Pi 3B+ for streaming (which I’ll upgrade to the Pi4 when the current shortage goes away).
Wowowow. Good to see you found your amp. Didn't you try a class D too? I'm foggy on details but I remember you trying a class D and liking that too.
 
OP
brotakul

brotakul

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
18
Wowowow. Good to see you found your amp. Didn't you try a class D too? I'm foggy on details but I remember you trying a class D and liking that too.
No, I didn’t try any class D amp, only A/B.
 

Doodski

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
8,262
Likes
7,699
Location
Canada
No, I didn’t try any class D amp, only A/B.
For a smaller amp it has good power output specs and a good amount of quiescent voltage at the power amp rails. I provided NAD warranty repair service for some years and when they blow from abuse the blown channel's 2 output power transistors fry and usually that's all and so the repair is usually pretty straight forward and no cascade smoke fest. A cascade is slang for lotsa stuff frying and blowing. I like NAD stuff.
NAD - 1.png

This is the right channel power amp circuitry and it's got lotsa stuff that could fry if designed to fry and cascade. But like I said NADs don't usually cascade.
nad - 2.png
 
OP
brotakul

brotakul

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
18
Yes, the “all discrete circuitry” played a role on the purchasing of this amp, indeed. It does seem to have about 3 microcontrollers on the ancilliary circuits (IR module and some other places), but the rest of the amp should be relatively easily serviceable. Now all I have to do is to do a complete recap and it should be up and running for years to come.
 

Doodski

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
8,262
Likes
7,699
Location
Canada
Yes, the “all discrete circuitry” played a role on the purchasing of this amp, indeed. It does seem to have about 3 microcontrollers on the ancilliary circuits (IR module and some other places), but the rest of the amp should be relatively easily serviceable. Now all I have to do is to do a complete recap and it should be up and running for years to come.
You can get a service manual here. If you pop off the top and bottom covers and inspect the PCB for hot spots you'll see where it gets hotter than other locations. If there is minimal heat spotting then I would not even bother recapping. Unless you want the recapping experience. The amp may not have been run hard or maybe it was; the way to know is inspect for heat marks on the PCB and resisters. Be careful if you recap that you get genuine parts and not cheapO imitations or substandard stuff. The cheap stuff is out there. Purchase from a reputable supplier like digikey or mouser. If you need service suggestions or some inspection assistance then post pics here.
 
OP
brotakul

brotakul

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
18
I have no electronics knowledge, but I do have a friend who has and does recapping. There’s a website (audio high end store) that sells capacitor prebuilt kits for lots of amps and use Elna/Nichicon/whatever high end audio-grade capacitors (high quality nevertheless, I guess). So I’m not going to do it myself, but I’ll have it done nonetheless because I don’t know the history of abuse on this amp and I just want to be on the safe side. Plus, it’s not that expensive either, around 55€ plus shipping for the parts.
PS: thanks for the manual, @Doodsky!
edit: wording.
 
Last edited:

Doodski

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
8,262
Likes
7,699
Location
Canada
I have no electronics knowledge, but I do have a friend who has and does recapping. There’s a website (audio high end store) that sells capacitor prebuilt kits for lots of amps and use Elna/Nichicon/whatever high end audio-grade capacitors (high quality nevertheless, I guess). So I’m not going to do it myself, but I’ll do it because I don’t know the history of abuse of this amp and I just want to be on the safe side. Plus, it’s not that expensive either, around 55€ plus shipping.
PS: thanks for the manual, @Doodsky!
What is the name of the cap kit supplier?
 
OP
brotakul

brotakul

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
18
A few kits were already purchased and amps recapped from that website (in my circle of friends I mean, even the NAD 319 I’m referencing in this thread), the experience so far was excelent. Highly recommend it to others based in Europe.
 

Doodski

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
8,262
Likes
7,699
Location
Canada
A few kits were already purchased and amps recapped from that website (in my circle of friends I mean, even the NAD 319 I’m referencing in this thread), the experience so far was excelent. Highly recommend it to others based in Europe.
I book marked the link in my ASR folder for use later. :D
 

johnk

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
41
Likes
39
Hi,
I also have a pair of Diamond 230 speakers so thought I would throw in my 2c. It sounds like you have made some good choices in the DAC and amp already. I have used them with 3 different amps:
Allo Volt+ (~25W)
Allo Volt+ D (~40W)
Yamaha A-S700 (70W)

The first two on my list are under powered, but still sounded very good to my ears, especially the Volt+ D. The speakers seem to be quite efficient.
I settled on using the A-S700 as my daily amp for them as I also use these for movies so the additional power is useful.

I would highly recommend getting a calibrated microphone and following some of the guides on this forum to try to eq the system. The pi can run parametric eq software although it can sometimes be fiddly to set up. I am still learning how to use eq well, but I have been able to make big improvements to my system so far. Also, don't forget to remove the grill from the tweeter!

Cheers,
John
 
OP
brotakul

brotakul

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2021
Messages
33
Likes
18
Hi,
I also have a pair of Diamond 230 speakers so thought I would throw in my 2c. It sounds like you have made some good choices in the DAC and amp already. I have used them with 3 different amps:
Allo Volt+ (~25W)
Allo Volt+ D (~40W)
Yamaha A-S700 (70W)

The first two on my list are under powered, but still sounded very good to my ears, especially the Volt+ D. The speakers seem to be quite efficient.
I settled on using the A-S700 as my daily amp for them as I also use these for movies so the additional power is useful.

I would highly recommend getting a calibrated microphone and following some of the guides on this forum to try to eq the system. The pi can run parametric eq software although it can sometimes be fiddly to set up. I am still learning how to use eq well, but I have been able to make big improvements to my system so far. Also, don't forget to remove the grill from the tweeter!

Cheers,
John
Yes, I already removed all the grilles from the speakers, since it seems that, at least for the tweeters, the cylindrical-shaped grille affects the horizontal off-axis response. And I could blame this on Placebo, but could swear I heard a difference, mainly less roll-off when moving around the "listening position" that my 2.5m long couch would be :))). That said, I also toed-in the speakers quite aggressively.
In the future I plan to experiment with room EQ indeed, but for now I'm trying to learn a bit about the subject and how CamillaDSP works (it comes with MoOde Audio that I use for streaming on my Pi), but I feel somewhat overwhelmed by the technicalities of it, so I'm waiting to just absorb it a bit before going all-in on this thing.
But I'm pretty comfortable right now with the setup, trying not to change too many things at once. The recent addition of the DAC and (mostly the) change in the amp already have huge effect on the sound and I want to get accustomed with it before changing anything else, so I can better understand and perceive what each of the changes does.
 

johnk

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
Messages
41
Likes
39
In the future I plan to experiment with room EQ indeed, but for now I'm trying to learn a bit about the subject and how CamillaDSP works (it comes with MoOde Audio that I use for streaming on my Pi), but I feel somewhat overwhelmed by the technicalities of it, so I'm waiting to just absorb it a bit before going all-in on this thing.
I still have a lot to learn too, and this forum is a great place to start. :)
Amir's videos are really helpful - e.g.

 
Top Bottom