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teegood64
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Looking for Upgrade Advice on Monoblock Preamp Setup

Hello,

My current setup is a NAD 7100 (c1989 - $150) that spits out 330 Watts into two sets of speakers, JBL L830 (c2008 - $400 - 125 watts) which are set up on DJ stands and NHT Classic Two (c2010 - $500 - 150 watts) mounted on the walls behind the JBL's. The NHT are rated 6 ohms, while the JBL's are 8 ohms. There is a switch on the back of the NAD 7100 that I have selected to 4-8 ohms. 

Other equipment is a new Yamaha CD-S300 ($300) and a Stanton Turntable ($200). I use a SD card which has 32 gigs of music that plays from the USB slot in the CD player. The turntable needs to be mated with something warmer. With my current setup, it is rivaled by the digital music (and the good DAC) that comes from the CD player. 

The room is fairly large - 30' length x 20' width (basement) with the speakers one end and a bar on the other. This means that general listening is done some 20 feet away from the speakers. I really have found that the speakers produce enough bass and have no want for a subwoofer.

The NAD 7100 has enough power for the room. My concern is an upgrade will have to at least have that much power, probably looking at two monoblocks at 100-125 watts per channel??

I have never used a monoblock / preamp setup. I know the NAD 7100 could be used as a preamp and will do so as two mid-price-range monoblocks are gonna run me a couple grand. My budget is about 2 grand, maybe three if it makes sense or I can get something integrated and don't feel I have to purchase a new preamp later. Anyone ever used the 7100 as a preamp?? I sense integrated amps are kind of making a comeback? 

Any suggestions as too what you would do? I have been leaning towards a Vincent SP-331 but would love the NAD M3 or perhaps a Parasound Halo..dunno..I honestly have NEVER heard any of them!! Unless I could get a loaner to hook up to my speakers, it seems like I will be winging it! If I walk into a high end stereo store with my credit card..fahget about it..aint gonna happen..wouldnt be prudent!!

I listen to mostly folk, adult alternative, some rock, some Top 40..have found that maybe its just me, but the harder rock stuff sounds a bit harsh on my setup..would like to soften that up..get more of a tube like sound that I was getting from a vintage Hardon Kardon 670 Twin I was using. Sadly that amp did not have enough watts to push my 4 speakers and vintage gear..well, I need a warranty!

Thank you for your comments!! Trevor

commsysman
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SYSTEM

Hello;

The first thing I would do is put $450 into a Music Hall MMF-2.2 turntable and $200 into a Musical Fidelity V-LPS phono preamp.

That will be a huge improvement in the sound quality.

Then I would get a pair of PSB Image T6 speakers for $1300. That will be another HUGE improvement.

Your speaker setup is not very good, and your turntable sucks...lol. The problems are obvious.

Putting a bunch of money into better amplification is a total waste of money untill you get decent speakers and a better turntable. First things first.

You amp isn't all that bad, while the speakers and turntable are pretty bad.

The NHT speakers are fair, but running them together with the other speakers is like teaming a mule with an ox to pull a wagon. They don't work together well. Neither one is going to give you anything like the sweet marvelous sound of the Image T6s, and you will also have a LOT more bass with them!

By the way; the Vincent SP-331 IS an excellent amp; the Parasound isn't.

 

teegood64 wrote:

Hello,

My current setup is a NAD 7100 (c1989 - $150) that spits out 330 Watts into two sets of speakers, JBL L830 (c2008 - $400 - 125 watts) which are set up on DJ stands and NHT Classic Two (c2010 - $500 - 150 watts) mounted on the walls behind the JBL's. The NHT are rated 6 ohms, while the JBL's are 8 ohms. There is a switch on the back of the NAD 7100 that I have selected to 4-8 ohms. 

Other equipment is a new Yamaha CD-S300 ($300) and a Stanton Turntable ($200). I use a SD card which has 32 gigs of music that plays from the USB slot in the CD player. The turntable needs to be mated with something warmer. With my current setup, it is rivaled by the digital music (and the good DAC) that comes from the CD player. 

The room is fairly large - 30' length x 20' width (basement) with the speakers one end and a bar on the other. This means that general listening is done some 20 feet away from the speakers. I really have found that the speakers produce enough bass and have no want for a subwoofer.

The NAD 7100 has enough power for the room. My concern is an upgrade will have to at least have that much power, probably looking at two monoblocks at 100-125 watts per channel??

I have never used a monoblock / preamp setup. I know the NAD 7100 could be used as a preamp and will do so as two mid-price-range monoblocks are gonna run me a couple grand. My budget is about 2 grand, maybe three if it makes sense or I can get something integrated and don't feel I have to purchase a new preamp later. Anyone ever used the 7100 as a preamp?? I sense integrated amps are kind of making a comeback? 

Any suggestions as too what you would do? I have been leaning towards a Vincent SP-331 but would love the NAD M3 or perhaps a Parasound Halo..dunno..I honestly have NEVER heard any of them!! Unless I could get a loaner to hook up to my speakers, it seems like I will be winging it! If I walk into a high end stereo store with my credit card..fahget about it..aint gonna happen..wouldnt be prudent!!

I listen to mostly folk, adult alternative, some rock, some Top 40..have found that maybe its just me, but the harder rock stuff sounds a bit harsh on my setup..would like to soften that up..get more of a tube like sound that I was getting from a vintage Hardon Kardon 670 Twin I was using. Sadly that amp did not have enough watts to push my 4 speakers and vintage gear..well, I need a warranty!

Thank you for your comments!! Trevor

teegood64
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System

I understand that what I have can be improved..is there such a thing as the perfect system? You would use $800 cables with such a system right?? lol

I am not spinning records as much since I got the Yamaha CD player, so the turntable is back burner. 

Image T6's are towers. Unfortunatley, Tower speakers will put sound on the floor and there is an impediment (basically a couch and chairs) between the speakers and the bar..and its a typical sized bar which means ear level is almost like standing up. And, my family has three cats and a dog. I have the JBL's raised on pods for a reason!!

Timbre in speakers can make a difference. The JBL's and NHT however both have neutral tonal qualities and even the most discerning ear is not going to pickup on some difference in character with these speakers. 

I get a mild buzz from the amplifier when I turn it on. It goes away in about 1-2 minutes but my aim is to get replace it before I am forced too..I like the NAD product..although like many say..it is kinda dark, but incredibly quiet other than after its been on for a couple of minutes. I checked and have no interference.

Thanks for the info. I have yet to find someone who has heard the Vincent and did not like it. It is well priced. 

Demondog
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I'm not sure what the goal is.

So the OP's current NAD amp has enough power, and bass, he likes the sound, but is seeking recommendations for an upgrade. Just about any modern amp, anywhere approaching the stated budget will likely be an upgrade. I think commsysman's point is that you will most likely not hear much of an improvement with such an upgrade.

This forum is oriented (for the most part) to achieving the best audio reproduction possible. I understand that compromises need to be made, but if the other links in your system's chain are as weak as commsysman thinks (like paper clips?), what is the point of making one link out of 3" high strength steel. I am reluctant myself to just hand out equipment recommendations without considering the entire system, and frankly your speakers/setup sounds pretty compromised. I personally think Parasound Halo are very good amps from what I've heard, but what if I recommended you buy one, you put it in your system, then it can't sound anywhere near its potential due to your entry level speakers with poor implementation/placement? (I'm using my imagination a little here) Then you go bad mouthing that demondog idiot on the Stereophile forum for not knowing what he's talking about. Haha

So if you want a new amp for its own sake, go ahead, I'm all for that.

jgossman
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??

I'm not sure you are going to listen to anyone anyway, but here you go.

You have a really good amp already.  Invest in some really high quality high output monitors, like Tannoy or even (with the right  cables) Klipsch, and mount them as high as you want.  You have a decent CD player and a good amp.  You are spending your money in the wrong place.   Just get better speakers and better cables.  No cables can't make a poorly matched system work well and be musical, but they CAN really make a good system better.  If you're afraid of using cables that cost as much as your amp, you're afraid to find out how good your amp really is.  

And by the way, everyone else is being nice.  After basically telling Comms he doesn't really know what he's talking about, I'll not.  Your speakers suck.  Start there.

Period.

teegood64
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System

Oh wow, I didn't know my speakers SUCKED!! lol Crazy, I buy a NAD amp on ebay for $99 and hand out about $800 on speakers and oh hell...thats why I ordered the damn magazine and joined this forum folks. Most people (those who are in the dark I suppose which would account for everyone in my family and anyone who comes to listen to music at my home) would think I was insane (really stupid!) for dropping a couple hundred on cables. Do not really understand it, but I have bi-wired the JBL's and was thinking if I get a monoblock and finish the biwiring at the other end, rather than just twisting the pair together at the amp, then that may increase sound quality? Can someone give me a short on why my monster cables suck too? Are those high end cables fiber or something? I am not a complete illiterate and can understand technical aspects which is what I am after..

I guess I am confused as to how I spent so much money buying the wrong things and so little buying the right thing (amp). Can you tell me why my speakers are inferior? Is there NHT speakers, perhaps, that would fit on my tripods (large bookshelf), that would you all would suggest be OK? Is NHT just an inferior product? Why? Crossover?

This is going to require more work than I thought.. thanks for the replies. Sorry about ignorance, I ordered the magazine a week or so ago and have yet to get it or peruse the many pages online at this site that would give me a better understanding of the mistakes I made.

jgossman
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Okay..

My language was strong but it was very late and you basically asked for advice and then insulted the advice giver.  Compared to the best at a given price range, your speakers aren't good.  Sorry.  I've hear lots of JBL through the years, and short of thier pro monitors which are not for the faint at heart as they really lay bare the recording and equipment, and oh yeah, are pretty pricy, they kind of yeah, suck.

Likewise, I'm pretty familiar with the NAD line and house sound and can pretty confidently say, you'd be amazed how much a pair of 250.00 cables into a nice, say 1000.0  speakers from Focal or PSB or Energy, or etc... would sound with that amp that you got on Ebay for 100.00.    For a few years I used 250.00 speaker cable with a Hafler that I just sold on Ebay for 160.00.  Now, I could have held on to the Hafler until I got the 300.00 it was worth, but that's another story.  The point is, how much you spent on it doesn't indicate it to be the weakness of the system.  

If you want to learn from people who have been in the hobby for a very long time and heard all the gear you mention, you have to not be offended and learn from what they are trying to teach you.  Teaching and helping and learning from each other is what these forums and others like them are for.  

teegood64
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speakers

ok, thanks. So I need to rid myself of the JBL's in lieu of Focal or PSB or Energy. The JBL's are big and albeit, inferior, create good bass (6" woofer). Since I first need to replace that bass and a requirement for me is to set them on stands, do any of those mfg you suggest provide a bookshelf speaker as large as the JBL L830, perhaps 8" woofer or dual 6"? I am searching ebay but nothing stands out. Floor standing models will just not work with my room acoustics setup. And call me old school but I prefer to stay away from a subwoofer, and I hate all the "surround model" speakers. Hence, the need for strong bass sounding speakers that can be mounted on DJ tripods. ?? I appreciate comments!

teegood64
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PSB

PSB Image B6 to replace the JBL L830?? 

teegood64
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PSB

I just bought a pair of PSB Image B6 speakers to replace the JBL L830's...

Demondog
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Congratulations, and welcome

Congratulations, and welcome to the forum (and magazine). I was going to advise you to be patient, haha Hope the PSB's work out.

BTW- I will be using Belden 5T00UP 10-gauge speaker wire, 20 ft terminated, from Blue Jeans Cable for $40 a pair, with the Revel F208 speakers when they arrive. Not everyone is sold on the concept of designer cables around here. Though I might spend more to get something better looking down the road.

http://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/speaker/index.htm

teegood64
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cable

thats reasonable for designer cable. As it is, my cabling simply lays on the floor- under an area rug where needed - from amp to speakers on stands. It simply allows me to move the speakers to and fro for staging purposes. Cable like you suggest will make that method look better so I will purchase some for the PSB's. I guess if both cable and speakers burn in at the same time, I wont know which has really made the most difference! I am sure someone out there is listening intently to his Realistic speakers with $400 cable runs and claims his Realistic's sound nearly as good as his Jensens!! thanks for the link..

jgossman
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Probably not bad..

I think the PSB are pretty good.  Listen to them for a while, and get a feel for them.  If you need more bass, then MAYBE look at a nice sub.  BUT take it a step at a time and really listen to what your system is doing.  Most any good heavy steel stands will do.  Let me know if you are interested, I have a set I'll sell for 50 bucks, plus shipping.  Already filled with peagravel and sand.

Good luck.

commsysman
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SPEAKERS

Since good bass is important to you (and most of us), the speakers I would suggest are the Monitor Audio Silver RX-2 speakers.They are monitor speakers for stand mounting.

They have an 8-inch main driver and are rated to go below 40 Hz. They go for $850 per pair. unless you get the gloss black which costs more.

They also happen to be very good-sounding speakers, period. Audio Advisor sells them.

Oops; I missed the post where you said you got the Image B6 speakers.

They are pretty good speakers. If they don't have the bass you want, see above. I assume you could return them if you wanted to.

 

teegood64 wrote:

ok, thanks. So I need to rid myself of the JBL's in lieu of Focal or PSB or Energy. The JBL's are big and albeit, inferior, create good bass (6" woofer). Since I first need to replace that bass and a requirement for me is to set them on stands, do any of those mfg you suggest provide a bookshelf speaker as large as the JBL L830, perhaps 8" woofer or dual 6"? I am searching ebay but nothing stands out. Floor standing models will just not work with my room acoustics setup. And call me old school but I prefer to stay away from a subwoofer, and I hate all the "surround model" speakers. Hence, the need for strong bass sounding speakers that can be mounted on DJ tripods. ?? I appreciate comments!

teegood64
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More speakers

Thanks for the replies. I may keep the stands I have unless they sell with the JBL's I have listed in craigslist. What I have is kinda mundane, maybe a little more style is in order for stands..are they mod or can you post a pic or provide a link??

Wow, those Monitor Audio speakers are really nice looking. I see they have an 8" woofer too, which is what I just may need if the PSB's dont do at least as well as the JBL's with the bass. I can always move the PSB's to the back and hang them where the NHT speakers are currently hanging. The one thing about the NHT's is that they have no port to release air, so suspending them a few inches from the wall does not compress the air as they dont exhale from the rear (or anywhere for that matter). They are fairly remarkable with the bass they create using such a design.

I will compare the PSB's to the JBL's and the NHT's and provide feedback on some other forum here or a more appropriate forum in stereophile. 

The PSB's I scored for $400. The Monitor Audio speakers are a bit steep at this time, but I like - as someone said as well - to switch out, sell off old equipment.. so that the rationale for doing so ...really makes a lot of sense!! When I sell the JBL's and my wife realizes that the JBL's now say PSB's (might take awhile) I will tell her that it only took a hundred or two to create a better soundstage for her and her lovely friends. I want whats best for her!

If someone has a pair of the Monitor Audios to sell or can provide another cool looking, fairly hi-end, 8" woofer wearing bookshelf ..let me know! Thanks!

Demondog
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I do that also
teegood64 wrote:

When I sell the JBL's and my wife realizes that the JBL's now say PSB's (might take awhile) I will tell her that it only took a hundred or two to create a better soundstage for her and her lovely friends.

It's a good technique.

teegood64
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another purchase

so as i was perusing craigslist today i spotted an NAD 356BEE for $490. I lunged without using financial restraint and should have it saturday. I just could not pass up the $300 savings, rationalizing that the savings almost pays for the new speakers you guys in this forum made me purchase. :)

So, the NAD will match up with the PSB and NHT's and I suppose since both the speakers and amp are near new, I will have to go through the burn in period. 

The only caveat is that the NAD does not have the phono stage. I know I can get one ($200 from NAD) and insert it easily enough into the amp, but I was wondering, should I go for another phono stage, like the Musical Fidelity ($200) or Pro-Ject ($$$$)?? If I keep the Stanton and dont upgrade the turntable it would make little difference what phono stage I opt for, right?

Also, now both my PSB's and NHT's are 6 ohms. Not sure if that means anything, do not really grasp the impedence thing even though I can read the definition well enough. 

 

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