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arontal
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Components advice

So, as a sibling to my other thread concerning my potential new audio system (here: http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=9282&an=0&page=0#Post9282),
I also need some info/advice/encouragement/etc concerning the componentry I'm looking at.
Originally, I was sold on the Arcam stuff I looked at, preferably the Solo (integrated amp/tuner/cd player in one box), or the comparable amp/cd player separates. I was really impressed with the clarity of the sound (and, along with my fiance, wooed by the stylish looks of the "Solo").
However, it's expensive stuff for my budget. The solo would be the most I could pay, ~$1600 (I've had to sell off qute a bit of stuff around the apartment to make all of this work).
The separate components (amp and cd player) from Arcam are a ~$100 cheaper.

There are some other brands, though, that are cheaper that I've been impressed with in the past from friend's systems. Cambridge Soundworks is one that leaps to mind, and the Azur 540 series amplifier and cd player are considerably cheaper than the above named Arcam gear (and would make the decision to go with more expensive speakers a little easier). I won't have the ability to a/b these things back to back, so it's hard for me to tell how different the quality really is between the brands, based on the different rooms I'll be testing in, different speakers, etc. I guess I'm fishing for expert advice. Anyone have any experience with both brands/systems? Anyone willing to throw out adjectives about timbre between the two systems?
I'm not really sure how to shop for components. Until a few years ago I thought that all cd players read and reproduce the same data from the disc and speakers are the only thing that makes a difference. As you can see, I'm pretty green when it comes to stereo electronics. That said, don't hold back on technical stuff as I'm a bass player and a gear head when it comes to bass amps, speaker cabinets, etc.

Also, I've heard good things about NAD and Marantz gear but have had few chances to play with them.

Thanks,
Andy

Monty
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Re: Components advice

Hi Andy,

The Cambridge 640C amp and 640 disc player are thrilling the British magazines these days and are quite inexpensive. Rotel has a nice, entry level integrated that is considered the leader at its price point...again, by the British audio press. You might drop by Barnes and Noble to see if they have a recent edition of the British magazine, What Hi Fi Sound and Vision. They often recommend complete systems that sound good together.

When you can't listen for yourself you have to put a little faith in someone and when it comes to entry level, British gear, What Hi Fi knows the stuff as well as anyone.

arontal
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Re: Components advice

Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely check out that magazinein the next few days. Interesting you say that, as it was a brit that recommended the Azur components.

I didn't know what to think of the Rotel gear. It sounded good, but I was in a poor listening environment to make a comparison. I hadn't heard of the brand before I saw it the other day, so I was a bit skeptical.

One of the good things about being a musician is that I'm used to describing timbre in words. It makes reading descriptions of gear meaningful...as long as I have faith in the reviewers ears.

Windzilla
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Re: Components advice

Hey, M n Em

for what it is worth, I have an Azur 340c in my system (you can look it up in the pictures area). I guess I can't say much about potential sonics as it uses a crystal DAC, and the 540 & 640 use wolfson's, but the build quality is excellent, easily on par with arcam IMHO.

oh and just a small correction the azur products are made by cambridge audio which is a british company totally sperate from cambridge soundworks a U.S. firm I believe.

arontal
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Re: Components advice

Ok, right now the decision comes down to:
1. Arcam Solo
2. Cambridge Audio 640a/c
3. Marantz 7001 amp/5001 cd

The Arcam is probably my favorite, but the most expensive, by a long shot.
The Cambridge Audio stuff is considerably cheaper and the reviews are very positive. Although, people say the sound is more "raw"...which is a it of a wishy-washy non-desrit term to me. I'd have to buy it sight-unheard though as I don't have a Cambridge Audio dealer around me that carries it.
I've listened to friend's Marantz system a few years ago when I was staying at his house for a week. I really liked the sound. Hard to compare, though, as it was a different room, different speakers and 3 years ago.

Compare, contrast...pontificate...

arontal
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Re: Components advice

Done, aaaaaand done.

A few days ago I made the move.
Arcam Solo
JM Labs Cobalt 816s

Monty
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Re: Components advice

Thanks for the update and congrats!

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