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Audio system upgrade - Pairing help

Fedebelga

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After 23 years, my first stereo system is slightly starting to wear down (amp stops producing signal to speakers from time to time, speaker foam rings have already been replaced) and I also think it is time for something new, if possible, better than my current setup.

All these years I've been using:

- Sony TA-FE530R amp (110 watts per channel into 4 Ohms, frequency response 7Hz to 70 Khz, damping factor 80)
- JBL Ti-200 speakers (frequency reponse 60Hz - 35 Khz, Sensitivity 88 dB)
- Sony CDP-XE530 CD player (analog + digital output)
- Sony ST-SE520 tuner
- Sanyo TP625 record player (50Hz, 12 Watts, without pre-amp!)

Since my amp and speakers are wearing down and I am not intending to repair them I want a new amp/avr and bookshelf speakers (without subwoofer), however combined with my current CD player, tuner (except when built in the amp) and record player. Listening to Spotify is also a condition and connection to TV (Samsung with HDMI, Ethernet & optical/digital audio out)

Listening room = part of the living room, 13 by 11 feet (8 feet ceiling), relatively damped (rug, furniture, sofa, wooden floor)

I listened to KEF LSX at a friend's, sounded very clear, natural, detailed to me (Maybe obvious, as I probably have listened to "colorized" sound all these years?). However, I went to a listening session at a specialised Audio center and listened to the LS50 Meta's (as I didn't want active speakers) but my attention was caught by the KEF R3's. More detail, more low. Both of these speaker sets were driven by a Hegel H120.

Initially, my budget was € 2000, but I suppose I will come short to combine the KEF R3's with something decent to drive them?
About "something decent": I have read numerous posts and threads on this beautiful forum, ranging from AVR, integrated amps, DIY (Hypex?) amps, also a very broad price range. As an absolute audiophile amateur (I love music but do not know anything about specs) pairing an amp/AVR with the R3's is a difficult task for me.

I would be glad to get a bit of help on pairing the KEF R3 speakers. When you suggest something, please keep in mind in what "quality range" my current setup is (I suppose budget range, or rather basic?), so I suppose that everything will be better than my current setup (?) so I'm more looking for something on my budget (2600€ or less) and something that can meet my requirements (connect to no pre-amp phone, CD player, (built-in) tuner, spotify) than expensive high end audio.

I also went to a classic Audio/Video retail store and the salesman advised me to buy something like Marantz PM7000N, Yamaha RN303 because it would be enough to drive a midrange-priced speaker. The seller from the specialised audio center where I listened to the KEFs however said, that I shouldn't buy these rather mid-range amplifiers for the R3's but stick to Hegel H95 (or if any, Arcam SA20 with phono stage!). I would like to get some clarity on this... (as the Hegel is out of my price range and doesn't have a phono)

So, in short: would the Arcam SA20 be an option or are there other/better alternatives that could pair the KEF R3's?

Thank you!

PS: Sorry if I did not include all the necessary info as this is my first post on this forum!
 

q3cpma

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Most people would recommend a MiniDSP with Dirac together with an Hypex amp for the R3, as they do seem to have quite the low impedance. I would also recommend Genelec or Neumann, but budget and the bookshelf requirement prevents them from being a competition to the cheaper R3.
 

Alexanderc

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Just for clarification, you have already purchased the R3s and now have £2600 to spend on amp/avr, or you have £2600 total to spend on the R3s AND the amp?
Edit: sorry, Euros, not pounds. My mistake!
 
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Fedebelga

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Just for clarification, you have already purchased the R3s and now have £2600 to spend on amp/avr, or you have £2600 total to spend on the R3s AND the amp?
Edit: sorry, Euros, not pounds. My mistake![/QUOTE
Just for clarification, you have already purchased the R3s and now have £2600 to spend on amp/avr, or you have £2600 total to spend on the R3s AND the amp?
Edit: sorry, Euros, not pounds. My mistake!

Initially, I had 2600 € in mind for the LS50’s and an integrated amp but because the R3’s sounded better imo I am tempted to buy these if I find a matching amp (preferably integrated?) within the budget (let’s say € 3000 maximum, I paid 1000€ 23 years ago for the full setup! )
 

Alexanderc

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I agree with @q3cpma thqt most people here will urge you to consider something with room correction and plenty of power. A MiniDSP SHD preamp with an Ncore amplifier can be had in the US for maybe $2000-2500. That seems like it’s going to stretch your budget too much. A mid level Denon AVR would be in your budget, but you would have to decide if that’s the way you want to go. With Hegel I think you would be paying for the name and there are better performing options for the money.
 
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Fedebelga

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What do you mean with: “if that’s the way you want to go”? If you mean: it’s a shame to combine the kef r3’s with only a midlevel AVR, please do say so as all this is unknown territory for me. And if so, is it perhaps a better idea to leave the R3’s for what they are and buy LS50 meta’s to meet the budget?

Could you name me a few alternatives for the Hegel?

Thanks!
 

Alexanderc

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What do you mean with: “if that’s the way you want to go”? If you mean: it’s a shame to combine the kef r3’s with only a midlevel AVR, please do say so as all this is unknown territory for me. And if so, is it perhaps a better idea to leave the R3’s for what they are and buy LS50 meta’s to meet the budget?

Could you name me a few alternatives for the Hegel?

Thanks!
To me, it seems like a 7 or 9 channel AV receiver has a lot of features that will never get used in a 2-channel setup. I don’t mean to suggest it would do a poor job.

Few integrated amps have been tested on this forum. The best is the NAD M33 which is beyond your budget at around €5500. Similar performance can be had for less. On this forum we don’t generally subscribe to the idea that some amps have “synergy” with some speakers. The idea is to get as much power as you can afford with a minimum of distortion. A very good amplifier for around €1000 (class D Hypex) paired with a preamplifier such as the MiniDSP SHD that I mentioned would probably be the least expensive way to get top level performance.
 

ScofieldKid

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Cambridge CXA-81, Yamaha S1100 or S1200?, Nord Three Purifi 1ET400A plus any of the Freya/Gustard/Hestia types of preamps...
 
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Fedebelga

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To me, it seems like a 7 or 9 channel AV receiver has a lot of features that will never get used in a 2-channel setup. I don’t mean to suggest it would do a poor job.

Few integrated amps have been tested on this forum. The best is the NAD M33 which is beyond your budget at around €5500. Similar performance can be had for less. On this forum we don’t generally subscribe to the idea that some amps have “synergy” with some speakers. The idea is to get as much power as you can afford with a minimum of distortion. A very good amplifier for around €1000 (class D Hypex) paired with a preamplifier such as the MiniDSP SHD that I mentioned would probably be the least expensive way to get top level performance.

7 or 9 channel avr set ups are indeed not my intent, 2 (or 3) channels are enough as the emphasis is on music, not to create a surround sound for television. So, an integrated amp would be perfect imo. The M33 is it but way too expensive, unfortunately. A cheaper alternative with the same functions (streaming, phono,...) would be welcome, yet powerful enough to steer the R3’s. That’s why I came up wit the PM7000 for instance.

I totally get the idea of getting as much power for your money but the thing with these Hypex amp modules is that they are DIY (correct me if I am wrong) and what about the phono?
 

q3cpma

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Room correction is way more important than any feature you could get from these integrated amps, so aiming for Dirac or Audyssey XT32 is what you should do.
About Hypex amps, you can get https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/powe...reo-amplifier-ncore-2x250w-4-ohm-p-14185.html at a reasonable price or https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/powe...wer-amplifier-ncore-2x125w-4-ohm-p-12756.html if you really don't want to stretch your budget. MiniDSP/Dirace is very nice, but you could do room correction by yourself using computer software (REW and an equaliser).
Denon's X3700H is their "cheapest" AVR with XT32, and should run for ~1150€ (+ what's needed to buy the smartphone application to fix their retarded default curve).
 
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Fedebelga

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Room correction is way more important than any feature you could get from these integrated amps, so aiming for Dirac or Audyssey XT32 is what you should do.
About Hypex amps, you can get https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/powe...reo-amplifier-ncore-2x250w-4-ohm-p-14185.html at a reasonable price or https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/powe...wer-amplifier-ncore-2x125w-4-ohm-p-12756.html if you really don't want to stretch your budget. MiniDSP/Dirace is very nice, but you could do room correction by yourself using computer software (REW and an equaliser).
Denon's X3700H is their "cheapest" AVR with XT32, and should run for ~1150€ (+ what's needed to buy the smartphone application to fix their retarded default curve).

I suppose the 2x250w will have enough power for the R3’s, and the price seems fair, but what do I connect it to for my phono, CD, Spotify streaming and tuner?

Edit: How long has room correction been in use?
 
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Fedebelga

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I suppose some kind of streamer/DAC/preamp thing may exist.
Could I combine the Audiophonics amplifer with a Rotel Pre amplifier for instance?

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/powe...reo-amplifier-ncore-2x250w-4-ohm-p-14185.html
https://www.rotel.com/en-gb/product/rc-1572

I suppose this would cover all my preferences while still delivering enough power?

Also, I found a Rotel integrated amplifier, delivering 120 W but I suppose the former option is better?

https://www.rotel.com/product/ra-1572

EDIT: https://www.peachtreeaudio.com/products/nova150?variant=34568693416086 ???

Thanks for your answer!
 
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Fedebelga

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NAD C 388 OR combination of NAD c 368 and C268. Any suggestions? Or better of with the Rotel RA1572/Peachtree? Losing it here, need advice :)
 
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