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AIO Streamer + Amp for KEF R3

corywong88

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Hello all,

I have been a lurker for some weeks, and a total noob in the Hi-Fi / Audophile area. This is my first post. Thanks for the nice community you have here!

My journey started since I listened a (what I considered decent) Hi-Fi from a friend in November and decided to buy something for me on Christmas.

In that moment I purchased (by recommendation of the dealer) a pair of KEF R3s + NAD C700, which from what I read maybe it wasn't the best combination and I told the dealer about that but he said that people in Internet writes crazy things, he told me that he tried this combination and it was great. I trusted him and received the equipment on late January.

Once I mounted the system, I was totally disappointed. No bass, and female voices kind of hurting my ear. I told this to the dealer and he said that it would be probably the room (not being treated), so I checked with some other dealers who told me that the NAD C700 wasn't a good match for the KEF R3s (in that moment I called back my dealer pretending to be a different person with KEF R3s and looking for a Streamer Amp and he told me I should go for a NAD M10 v2, Naim Uniti Atom or Hifi-Rose and saying that the C700 wasn't an option for these speakers). Yes, the same guy who told me this was a great combo...

Anyway, as I don't have much space and have to deal with the WAF, the proposed alternatives were Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 and Naim Uniti Atom. I read reviews and I know that measurements are not the best, but in the other hand there are quite a bunch of users in the forum happy with these amps, so I asked a dealer to have them both at home for testing and he agreed as he was 100% sure that I will get the Naim instead of the Lyngdorf.

And now it's when I require of your knowledge, as I am not an expert so I don't know the exact words to provide an specific description.

What I hear (noob ears):

- Naim sounds more powerful at low-mid volumes, but also I hear more distortion (don't know if the distortion is blame of the room, amp or speakers) when go higher volumes that I won't think I will be listening the music. Female voices are a little bit harsh for me ( metallic tweeter getting too excited? )

- Lyngdorf sounds not so exciting, but doesn't tire me up. I can identify some improvement with RoomPerfect but not night and day in my cause (maybe I'm an ignorant). I mean that I prefer the Lyngdorf sound even without RP. Volume control is totally different ( I think probably because of Equibit and being Totally digital? ), so I don't care what the volume knob says

I have to decide on Monday which one should I keep. Am I being ignorant for keeping the Lyngdorf for my speakers? All the dealers I asked (which first task is take money) said that I will prefer the Naim, but from what I read in this forum and other one is that maybe Lyngdorf will be better for this. I am just trying to remove my bias from the choice and asking for help.

FYI: I can get a Demo Uniti Atom at the same price as a brand new TDAI-1120.

Regards.
 

antcollinet

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First of all - stop focusing on the amp. You won't achieve any improvement in what you are describing by changing the amp. Any amp with those speakers in that room will sound almost the same or identical. Caveat: The room perfect of the Lyngdorf (or another system with room EQ) may help with room response.

Most likely any problems come with the interection of the speakers with the room. The good news is, you probably don't need to change the speakers either. Most probably the sound you don't like is resulting from a simple frequency response problem.

Experiment with positioning the speakers if you can, moving them away from walls as much as possible, making sure toe in is correct.

Can you also describe your room and speaker postioning. (Shape size, as well as what the wall/floor construction is, how much soft furnishing there is - including carpets and curtains)

It's also worth seeing what you can do with the tone controls of the NAD, turnign the bass up, and treble down.

PS - if you have the opportunity to swap out the amp without losing money at this time, then it may be worth considering for your own peace of mind. If not, then I'd postpone any decision until you've tried optimising the current equipment.
 
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corywong88

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First of all - stop focusing on the amp. You won't achieve any improvement in what you are describing by changing the amp. Any amp with those speakers in that room will sound almost the same or identical. Caveat: The room perfect of the Lyngdorf (or another system with room EQ) may help with room response.

Most likely any problems come with the interection of the speakers with the room. The good news is, you probably don't need to change the speakers either. Most probably the sound you don't like is resulting from a simple frequency response problem.

Experiment with positioning the speakers if you can, moving them away from walls as much as possible, making sure toe in is correct.

Can you also describe your room and speaker postioning. (Shape size, as well as what the wall/floor construction is, how much soft furnishing there is - including carpets and curtains)

It's also worth seeing what you can do with the tone controls of the NAD, turnign the bass up, and treble down.

PS - if you have the opportunity to swap out the amp without losing money at this time, then it may be worth considering for your own peace of mind. If not, then I'd postpone any decision until you've tried optimising the current equipment.

Thanks for the answer.

Room is 3,75m x 3,9 m
Floor is laminated wood
Furniture: 2,8m sofa, round 90cm coffe table, and TV furniture suspended on air of the back wall
A 1,15m x 1,15 cm painting on the same wall as the window + curtains
Listening position 3m equilateral triangle
Carpet 2,9 x 2 m
There is a splitted door-window for the balcony of 1,25m width with Curtains covering it

Stands are Solid Steel SS5 with the spikes

Speakers are close near to the corners, but having at least 75cm away from the front wall, and 50cm to the lateral walls. I tried with different toed in positions.

As for the moment, I only payed the NAD C700 and the Naim / Lyngdorf are on demo. I like much better the sound of the Lyngdorf rather than the NAD, but maybe it's bias as you suggest? I prefer the sound of the Naim rather than the Lyngdorf, but I think I notice more hte imperfections of the room when going crazy on volume

Thanks!
 

Gruesome

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I'm not a HiFi or streaming expert, so take this with a big grain of salt. I've spent some time on this site (which I find really refreshing compared to all the gobbledygook and mumbo-jumbo on traditional audiophile sites), and recently bought a pair of KEF R3s that are currently in my office. I'm still pondering what amp to get eventually, but in the mean time I'm making do with a small D class amp/DAC combo that tested pretty well (Loxjie A30) and provides more than enough power for my similar sized (12 by 13 feet) room.

This might come a bit late, but reading your initial post, my main concern would be not the sound. As already mentioned, this is most likely a function of the room and speaker positioning and not of the amplifier. My main concern would be if any of the streaming amps you are being directed at are ok or competent, not necessarily state of the art, but at least good enough? The NAD C700 seems to be pretty bad in noise+distortion ('SINAD'), according to this table: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZlTOYxmPs938gqHjtDABkWS-MApu7uJjzIGnJ2Elm6Y/edit?pli=1#gid=0
But are the other two any better? I can't find the Lyngdorf, but the Uniti Atom seems downright abysmal (58dB SINAD). Mind you this is probably still marginally better than the speakers (see https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/kef-r3-speaker-review.12021/ , 0.1% distortion is -60dB), but to me it seems completely unnecessary to accept this amplifier performance compared to what is available in your price range and below.

Using the above table and the reviews on this site, finding a competent amp that has sufficient power for the R3s in your not-too-large room should be not too difficult. An R3 provides 87 dB sound pressure level per W at 1m distance, so at 3m distance you need 9 W for 87 dB SPL (about cinema reference level: https://www.thx.com/questions/what-is-the-reference-level/), and 90W gets you 97 dB SPL. I believe the R3 only allow 160W max, so you can't go much higher (in perceived sound level).
Then you could stream from a (remotely controlled) laptop or PC or RPi that you might already have.

If it has to be an integrated amp & streamer with nice display, the Cambridge Audio Evo 75 is in the same price range and uses Hypex amplifier modules that (according to reviews of other amps using them) perform much better than the three amps you list.
 
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voodooless

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Did you ever compare these amps level matched? If no tone controls or Room correction is active I would suspect it’s really hard to tell them apart. If you have a simple DMM you should be aboe to test this by setting the volume to something comfortable on on amp, play a 400 Hz sine, and measure the AC voltage over the speaker terminal with the DMM. Now match the voltage as close as possible with the other amps using the volume control before you start listening. That will give you a much fairer comparison.

To be fair the SINAD of the Lyngdorf isn’t much better than the others. I doubt it’s significant though.

As for the sales person, it seems he just wants to sell whatever he has on stock. I would not trust him much. Then again, I would not know why the C700 would not be a “good match”. It has an older Hypex design amp, but those are perfectly serviceable although not as good as the newer incarnations. I would expect a bit higher SINAD though.

Finally, I must agree on another thing with the sales person: it’s likely placement or the room. Bass is likely a setup issue. Try moving the speakers closer to the wall. Also do not toe the speakers in. If you have that that may account for the elevated highs you heared. Try to setup the Lyngdorf room correction and see how much of an improvement that brings. For SQ, frequency response is king, and a normal amp has very little influence of that.
 

ZolaIII

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From all in one integer stereo amplifiers (with streamer) try to find Yamaha R-N803 (R-N803D) it's discontinued from last year's ending and should be about 800$. It's first gen AirPlay Musicast device and all do YPAO it has ain't great it will still be much better than no room correction at all. Get a deacent Subwoofer or two with it. SVS SB-1000 will do and can be found for little more than 400$ right now. Get a thick curtains on windows and that balcony door, narrow a bit speakers distance/placement increasing the distance from back/side wall's to 2.75m at most (0.5 m to side wall's and little more to back one). If you can consider treating the back wall and corners with not expensive thicker (10 cm for panels) absorption panels/corner what ever they are called from rock wool or acoustic foam. If you play it right all mentioned would cost about the same as NAD alone (it would cost more but with pair of mentioned sub's). Of course it will need more effort from you getting it done but use once done would be fairly simple. Alternatively you can go with mid range Denon AVR with more potent Audicity room correction which is better than YPAO but I don't know how good they are regarding streaming services.
Have a nice time and good luck.
 
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