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Best DAC-PRE-AMP for the B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Edition

Caldiske88

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Hi,
I have found an opportunity to buy a pair of B&W 603 S2 Anniversary speakers in like-new condition for just €800. Now, I would like to spend around €1200 on everything else needed to make them sound great.
My intended usage is:
  • 50% Films
  • 30% Music
  • 20% Music for children and background entertainment
I am quite uncertain about my options and definitely do not want intrusive bass or harsh, metallic highs.
What I need is:
  1. HDMI ARC (preferred) or Optical input
  2. Streamer
  3. One remote control for everything
I am considering various proposals:
  1. M2si €590 + Wiim Pro Plus €249
  2. M3si €899 + Wiim Pro Plus €249
  3. Roksan K3 €1015 + Wiim Pro Plus €249
  4. Cambridge Audio CXA81 €850 + Wiim Pro Plus €249
  5. Yamaha R-N800A €900
  6. Marantz Stereo 70s €849
  7. AUDIOPHONICS DAW-S250NC €899
  8. Audiophonics AP-300S500NC (but I don't know how to use it or which DAC-PRE would offer a refined, controlled, neutral sound without being boring or too warm)



Help me spend my money wisely; this is a very important expense for me, the result of many sacrifices, and I don't want to regret it.


 

DJNX

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definitely do not want intrusive bass or harsh, metallic highs.
The Bowers & Wilkins speakers do that on their own.
I'm sorry but you made a bad buy.

This is how bad B&W's sound is:

The best advice I can give you is to position the speakers for 30 degrees angle listening. That tames the harshness of the high frequencies.

Out of the choices you mention, I would go for the Yamaha R-N800A, because it's all-in-one and thus very convenient.
 
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Caldiske88

Caldiske88

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I love the open and crystalline sound of B&W, I don't want an amplifier that doesn't know how to keep the woofers at bay causing a too swollen bass effect, or an overly analytical pre and power amplifier that doesn't soften the high frequencies.

So Yamaha R800N has better sound then AUDIOPHONICS DAW-S250NC ?
 

VintageFlanker

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I am quite uncertain about my options and definitely do not want intrusive bass or harsh, metallic highs.
These are on your speakers, placement and room, not the amplifiers.
or an overly analytical pre and power amplifier that doesn't soften the high frequencies.
Same : You are mistaken about the role of a pre/power. They intend to be as neutral as possible, make your speakers sound as they are supposed to, not to fix their issues. At least to a certain extent, EQ could arrange a few things sometimes.
Yamaha R800N has better sound then AUDIOPHONICS DAW-S250NC ?
No. They would sound the same, at least under certain circonstances. Depending on your listening position and needs for high dBSPL, the 800N will be enough to drive 603S2 in most rooms. It's a good all-in-one amp that is suited for a simple system.

Another alternative (and I won't make any other proposal) could be to wait a couple of months for the WiiM Ultra to be released, and use it as a DAC/Pre to drive the Audiophonics nCore. In the recent history, WiiM have proved to be way more active and evolutive in the software department than Yam's MusicCast. The Ultra will be a decent DAC & Preamp (with only RCA Outs, but this will me OK for the NC252 power module), a very good streamer, and slightly tweakable with pEQ.

That's it.
 

TonyJZX

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well you like what you like

i would rather this



at least you are not stuck with whatever digital stage is in the other one
 
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Caldiske88

Caldiske88

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These are on your speakers, placement and room, not the amplifiers.

Same : You are mistaken about the role of a pre/power. They intend to be as neutral as possible, make your speakers sound as they are supposed to, not to fix their issues. At least to a certain extent, EQ could arrange a few things sometimes.

No. They would sound the same, at least under certain circonstances. Depending on your listening position and needs for high dBSPL, the 800N will be enough to drive 603S2 in most rooms. It's a good all-in-one amp that is suited for a simple system.

Another alternative (and I won't make any other proposal) could be to wait a couple of months for the WiiM Ultra to be released, and use it as a DAC/Pre to drive the Audiophonics nCore. In the recent history, WiiM have proved to be way more active and evolutive in the software department than Yam's MusicCast. The Ultra will be a decent DAC & Preamp (with only RCA Outs, but this will me OK for the NC252 power module), a very good streamer, and slightly tweakable with pEQ.

That's it.
Thank you for your comprehensive answer! I heard these speakers from the seller with a Roma 510c amplifier, and they sounded very different from my current and temporary Fosi V3 (32 volts), The fosi at even moderate volumes distorts, the basses become unlistenable, the hight are annoying and metallic, known a lot of compression in the sound, something that with the ROMA did not happen. This made me think that I had to create a good match for my speakers, I use spotify or Tidal to listen to music, currently from a laptop with its internal sound card, obviously in the future I want a real streamer that is external or integrated into the amplifier. I've already evaluated the idea of the Wiim Ultra but in Europe we talk about Q4, I don't know if I want to wait so long, maybe I have a friend who lends me pre and amp, so I can wait.
 

restorer-john

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I'd go with the Yamaha and forget the others. Give the Fosi to someone.
 

JeremyFife

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You got a good deal on those speakers, but they are coloured. You may like that, speakers are very personal.

Don't worry about the amplification, it doesn't matter that much - the Yamaha is sound. Choose on features.

Given your comments - wanting a certain sound, preference for HDMI - and the fact that your speakers are not neutral ... consider the WiiM Amp which allows you to adjust the sound and has a decent HDMI implementation.
Your speakers are sensitive enough, it'll be loud enough.
 

dlaloum

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As an alternative, given 50% of your use will be movies - I would suggest an AV Receiver...

The Denon/Marantz and Onkyo/Integra/Pioneer families of AVR's all have decent performance, and as a bonus you get proper RoomEQ... Audyssey, AccuEQ or Dirac depending on the model.

They have a bunch of excess channels, but at a later date, you can add surround, height, center speaker(s), and/or a sub

The AVR marketplace has the advantage of substantial mass production, as a result of which you can get excellent value for money, and substantially more sophisticated features.

At around US$1000 I believe you can find the Onkyo RZ50 or Denon X3800 - the former with Dirac & AccuEQ, the latter with Audyssey (and Dirac optional at additional cost).

With these, you can use their apps to view the speaker response curve in your room (yes they come with a measurement mic) - and then adjust to taste...

So the "voicing" is no longer a random coincidence of speaker/amp/pre combination - but a conscious choice... you want ear bleeding highs, set the curve to lift at the top end... you want a warmer sound, load one of the standard Harman curves... it will sound, the way you set it to sound.

There are models that may well suit your needs at both lower and higher pricepoints than the ones I mention above.

(and other brands in that market too... Yamaha makes good kit too)
 

VintageFlanker

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Your speakers are sensitive enough,
Pretty much disagree. Both Audioholics and SoundStage measured the 603 at 86.5dB sensitivity, which is quite low for floostanders. This is the impedance curve:
1000032003.png

I can't be less sure that the WiiM Amp will put them loud enough in all scenarios, especially for movies use. We don't know about the LP distance, volume of the room. Not everybody listens at 75dB (I certainly don't)... ;)
 
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dlaloum

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Pretty much disagree. Both Audiophonics and SoundStage measured the 603 at 86.5dB sensitivity, which is quite low for floostanders. This is the impedance curve:
View attachment 369953
I can't be less sure that the WiiM Amp will put them loud enough in all scenarios, especially for movies use. We don't know about the LP distance, volume of the room. Not everybody listens at 75dB (I certainly don't)... ;)
My speakers are 4 ohm nominal with 86db sensitivity - I achieve my normal listeninng levels in my room with no more than 4W peaks ( I listen at 72db roughly)
even if we take that to 81db - that would be a total of 32W peak (and my setup has never had the 16W peak LED light up, regardless of how ear splittingly loud it was!)

As long as it has sufficient current to be able to handle what is clearly a 4ohm speaker - things will be fine.

My 4ohm nominal speakers go down to 1.6ohm, and not all amps are happy in that case!! - but this impedance chart is much "easier" - I would look for a 100W/ch AVR, that should leave heaps of headroom in reserve.
 
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Caldiske88

Caldiske88

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Ho letto che gli AVR con più canali pilotati riducono molto la potenza, non ricordo che il modello da 150watt, con tutti i canali pilotati, scendesse a circa 37 watt per canale, vorrei valutare la possibilità di fare HT, Ho una coppia di Monitor Audio Bronze 100 che potrei usare per la parte posteriore, mi basterebbe una centralina ed un diver, ma abbinare la MA100 posteriore ed una centralina di un'altra azienda, non mi porterebbe a hai un suono non armonico?
 

JeremyFife

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Pretty much disagree. Both Audiophonics and SoundStage measured the 603 at 86.5dB sensitivity, which is quite low for floostanders. This is the impedance curve:
View attachment 369953
I can't be less sure that the WiiM Amp will put them loud enough in all scenarios, especially for movies use. We don't know about the LP distance, volume of the room. Not everybody listens at 75dB (I certainly don't)... ;)
I stand corrected - thanks - I saw the specs as 88dB but didn't look further. Agree that you'd want to think about required SPL at the listening point.
 

MaxwellsEq

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heard these speakers from the seller with a Roma 510c amplifier
You may need to consider DSP to replicate the sound of an expensive tube amplifier.
 

dlaloum

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Yes, when driving multiple channels, many AVR's drop to around 70% of their rated 2 channel power.

Some of the better ones, are rated at 5 or 7 channels driven though, and when driving 2 channels will then have substantially more power available... but those tend to be more expensive flagship models.

However, keep in mind, in most cases, and with most speakers, a 100W/ch AVR will have more than enough power.
 
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