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Upgrade Advice: NCx500 vs NC502 + Topping A90 Discrete as a replacement for Arcam SA20

Bobesku

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Joined
Dec 14, 2022
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Location
Europe, Romania
Hello,

I was such a happy puppy until one day... My Arcam SA20 amp started to have intermittent channel issues... And now it's at the service waiting for repair...
So, in the meantime I have started my own upgrade plan, just in case something goes wrong or if I want to upgrade my quality of listening and forget about the Arcam.


So, my current setup has been composed of:

Raspberry Pi4 (piCorePlayer + Camilla DSP) ------USB------> Topping E50 ------(RCA)---> Arcam SA20 ------> 2 x KEF Q750 (+ 2 SVS SB 1000 PRO subs integrated with REW and MSO on High-Level connections that I am adding to the mix to smoothen the 25-200Hz region)


Then NEW setup chain would either be:

1. Raspberry Pi4 (piCorePlayer + Camilla DSP) ------USB------> Topping E50 ------(XLR)---> AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S600NCX NCx500 ------> 2 x KEF Q750 (+ 2 SVS SB 1000 PRO............)

2. Raspberry Pi4 (piCorePlayer + Camilla DSP) ------USB------> Topping E50 ------(XLR)---> Topping A90 Discrete ------> AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC NCore NC502MP ------> 2 x KEF Q750 (+ 2 SVS SB 1000 PRO............)



Also, I want to have the option of a trigger to turn on/off the amp which my Topping E50 does not have it.


So, basically I want to replace the Arcam SA20 with a Hypex NCore amp and I started to question the need (or not need) for a preamp - see below why.


At first I thought that using the digital volume control from the E50 would be enough, and wanted to get the NCore NCx500 without the need of a preamp. But I am not sure how this would sound when listening at low levels. I like to blast the speakers from time to time during daytime, but in the evening I do my listening at lower levels (I also have cats and a wife...).
Also with this option I will be tied to trigger the amp directly from the RPI4 using GPIO out signals. So no more clean integration with input from TV into optical on the E50.

Then I thought that maybe downgrading the amp option to a NCore NC502MP but adding the Topping A90 Discrete as a preamp would make things more balanced, as in better usability, trigger directly from the Pre which would become the center of controlling the volume and would also trigger the amp. And, as a bonus I could send 2 channels from my TV directly through optical into the E50 and `watch` some music...too :) :)



So, if you had the patience in reading this, my question is simple: for my application with the KEF Q750 speakers rated at merely a max of 150 Watts and desire to upgrade to a better specc`ed amp, what would be a good option? 1 or 2 from above, also taking into consideration the usability and volume control + trigger options.

If the difference between the NC502 and NCx500 would be so huge and my speakers would be able to pick that up, then I might consider in losing the preamp + the plug'n'play trigger solution.

But that leads to a second questions: power amp with adjustable gain driven directly from the DAC with digital control vs power amp with fixed gain driven by a preamp that's being fed full signal from the DAC... And in this case the ones from above.


Bobby
 
OP
Bobesku

Bobesku

Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2022
Messages
20
Likes
12
Location
Europe, Romania
It seems that my dillema is over, at least for the time being.

I have chosen a great amp - boXem Arthur 4215/E2. Just seen an offer for a refurbished unit and I pulled the trigger. I am confident that it would serve me well and bye bye trigger options head scratching or amp capabilty what-ifs.
Cannot wait to see it at my door... Or better yet... In my modest setup.

However, if anyone wants to respond to my previous questions I would definitely take the advice into consideration and further educate myself.
 
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