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Sloansong
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Wondering what's next?

Hello all,

I am new to the forums and relatively new to the wanna be title of audiophile. I have only one main system that pulls a lot of duties and have found it very hard to reconcile the need for HDMI in my pre section. Having a dedicated audio vs. video system is just not feasible for me at this time. I have been wondering what my next step should be and thought it appropriate to solicit opinions from you fine folks.

My current set up:
Marantz 1603 acting as a video switcher for a PS4, Apple TV and a Mac mini and also as my pre for my music
McIntosh MC7150 power amp
McIntosh MVP851 as a CD transport
Mac Mini as a digital music server via USB to the DAC
NAD D1050 DAC for the Mac mini via USB
Bowers and Wilkens CM5 series one speakers
Audioquest Rocket 88 biwire, Columbia interconnects for the pre to the Mac and a Water interconnect from the MVP851 to the pre

I also use audivarna on the Mac for the digital music. So the question is with a budget of 1.5 to 2k, what would my next be? I listen to a pretty wide variety of music from Dave Brubeck to Mastodon to Boards of Canada to the LSO.
I have been pretty happy with the results I have gotten so far but once down the rabbit hole there is no turning back.

What I would like is a little more bottom end (without a subwoofer) and a little smoother treble in the mid to upper range. What do you folks think?

bierfeldt
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soooo

Like everyone, your system is unique and you are facing an some interesting dilemmas. My gut tells me the lack of responses stems from the fact that this is not an easy question to answer.

I see a few things that you can do that may work, but not one clear path and part of this is subjective based on each persons perception so I apologize in advance for this not being terribly prescriptive but given your budget, a bit of trial and error work might be in order.

First, lets address bass response. A bookshelf speaker is only going to go so low no matter what you do. It is a matter of physics. A small woofer can only move so much air. However, there are things that you can do to improve bass response.

One thing worth trying is changing the speaker placement. Moving the speaker closer to the wall can enhance bass response. Move it too close to the wall and it will create weird resonances, particularly from the port. This is part of the reason why you can struggle putting a "bookshelf" speaker in a bookshelf. Mess around with this. If you can get bass response that is acceptable, great. If you can't, an alternate speaker might be necessary.

Regarding smoother treble, I find B&W speakers to be a hair forward. To offset this, you can warm your amplification, choose a warmer speaker or there may be room treatments that can impact the sound profile.

Additionally, I find McIntosh solid state amps to be a bit bright. I don't know if I have ever heard your exact model and that is why I offer the upfront caveat that a bit of trial and error may be required. This POV stems from persnoal experience having demo'd many speakers driven by Mc equipment through time and the POV of several dealers.

Alternative, Marantz tends to be a hair warm and the preamp stage could be offsetting the touch of brightness that Mc solid state equipment delivers in my experience.

A quick test could be try driving the B&Ws with Marantz instead of the Mc. If it sounds better, then you could consider a warmer power amp. If it still sounds bright, you might want to consider a different speaker because I am 100% certain the Marantz will be a hair warm.

I will leave it to the room tuners to offer advice on how they could potentially enhance bass or soften treble via their particular arts. I am unfamiliar with what can be accomplished.

If you do this little bit of testing and let us know your results, we may be able to offer suggestions for different equipment that will meet your needs and budget. For music while testing, I would suggest using the worst and best sounding tracks you can think of currently.

commsysman
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AMPLIFIER

I suggest that you get a Marantz MM7025 power amplifier.

I think this will improve things noticeably..

I also would suggest that you a Marantz CD6005 CD player and connect it directly to your 1603 without any external DAC. This should sound better.

Sloansong
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bierfeldt wrote:
bierfeldt wrote:

Like everyone, your system is unique and you are facing an some interesting dilemmas. My gut tells me the lack of responses stems from the fact that this is not an easy question to answer.

I see a few things that you can do that may work, but not one clear path and part of this is subjective based on each persons perception so I apologize in advance for this not being terribly prescriptive but given your budget, a bit of trial and error work might be in order.

First, lets address bass response. A bookshelf speaker is only going to go so low no matter what you do. It is a matter of physics. A small woofer can only move so much air. However, there are things that you can do to improve bass response.

One thing worth trying is changing the speaker placement. Moving the speaker closer to the wall can enhance bass response. Move it too close to the wall and it will create weird resonances, particularly from the port. This is part of the reason why you can struggle putting a "bookshelf" speaker in a bookshelf. Mess around with this. If you can get bass response that is acceptable, great. If you can't, an alternate speaker might be necessary.

Regarding smoother treble, I find B&W speakers to be a hair forward. To offset this, you can warm your amplification, choose a warmer speaker or there may be room treatments that can impact the sound profile.

Additionally, I find McIntosh solid state amps to be a bit bright. I don't know if I have ever heard your exact model and that is why I offer the upfront caveat that a bit of trial and error may be required. This POV stems from persnoal experience having demo'd many speakers driven by Mc equipment through time and the POV of several dealers.

Alternative, Marantz tends to be a hair warm and the preamp stage could be offsetting the touch of brightness that Mc solid state equipment delivers in my experience.

A quick test could be try driving the B&Ws with Marantz instead of the Mc. If it sounds better, then you could consider a warmer power amp. If it still sounds bright, you might want to consider a different speaker because I am 100% certain the Marantz will be a hair warm.

I will leave it to the room tuners to offer advice on how they could potentially enhance bass or soften treble via their particular arts. I am unfamiliar with what can be accomplished.

If you do this little bit of testing and let us know your results, we may be able to offer suggestions for different equipment that will meet your needs and budget. For music while testing, I would suggest using the worst and best sounding tracks you can think of currently.

Thank you for the response. I have experimented with speaker placement and feel I am getting the best response out of them at 18" from the rear wall with about 22 degrees of toe. Before I acquired the Mac I was running the speakers bi-amped out of the 1603 and it sounded much brighter to my ears. I am intrigued by your comments on the Mac being a brighter sounding amp. What other amplification would you recommend to warm things up a bit and conversely which speakers have you auditioned that perhaps sound a tad warmer but don't lose resolution?

Cheers

Sloansong
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Thank you also for your

Thank you also for your response. I am not sold on Marantz as the solution for my amplification as I have stated in my response to the op. In addition the McIntosh transport does go directly into the 1603 via analog. The only source I am using my DAC for at the moment is my digital collection coming from the Mac mini.

bierfeldt
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An idea

Consider Wharfedale Jade 3s. These are ultra detailed yet don't feel forward which almost feels like it should be a contradiction in terms. They are awesome speakers. One of the wonderful things about them is that they deliver slightly deeper bass. They are $1500. Wharfedale has a good dealer network. You could also get them from Music Direct who has a rather generous return policy. Thus you could potentially try them out in home and return them if they don't solve you problem. These got a killer review here at Stereophile. I personally have spent quite a bit of time listening to these when I was shopping for bookshelf speakers and i was impressed. I chose Revels over them because the Jade's they were a poor fit for my system in that I had an extremely warm amp at the time, and pairing a warmer speaker with a warm amp would be just too rounded off for me.

If you opted for a power amp, I would look at the Rogue Audio Atlas for $2K available from Needle Doctor. Stereophile reccomended component. I have yet to hear a Rogue product that isn't exceptional. A classic tube amp will deffinitely warm up your sound. At a slightly higher price, the Vincent Audio SP 331MK is a great hybrid unit but it is $2500. Last I looked, Audio Advisor had a demo at a lower price, maybe $2200. Both retailers have the same sort of liberal return policy,. The Absolute Sound raved about the Vincent and I believe named it amp of the year not long ago. I hunted both of These down when I was shopping for a power amp when I was not convinced I could find a preamp to match with my Rogue Audio Hydra. I found the right preamp eventually and am now in love with the Hydra.

Sloansong
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Awesome input, thank you sir.

Awesome input, thank you sir. Ahh the preamp! that is something else isn't it? I need HDMI for Apple TV, PS4, Mac mini etc. but I know there has got to be something a bit better pull preamp duty than my 1603 lol! But that will have to wait.

bierfeldt
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To solve your stated issue above

You want improved bass response with smoother treble, the best solution to me is a different speaker. If you can't do a floor standing speaker, the Wharfedale Jade 3s are going to be your best solution while maintaining the level of transparency you currently have with the B&Ws.

You should have an optical output on your Apple TV & PS4, Digital Coax from the MC CD/DVD player, and of course, USB form your Mac. You could run those optical outputs into your NAD DAC and use the DAC as a switch for your audio. It does require you to align inputs on the DAC and your TV, but would give you the flexibility to use any preamp. If this isn't too inconvenient, you could replace the NAD and Marantz receiver with a digital DAC/Pre like the Cambridge Azur 851D or 851N or a Benchmark DAC2. This would reduce the number of boxes and give you an even higher end DAC than you already have. Or you could get an analog pre-amp and connect your NAD DAC to it. This will not solve your low end bass challenge but is something you may want to consider as a potential next step.

There are lots of options at preamp and having just gone through a search for one a few months ago, it is probably more a process of trial and error than any single purchase I have ever made. I think I listened to 8 different units before I found one I really liked and thought would fit my system. I still went and listened to 2 or 3 more after I bought one just in case.

To my knowledge, I am unaware of a 2 channel unit that has HDMI switching in a preamp. Typically that will show up only in home theatre pre/pros. The quality of two channel output won't be quite the same as what you can get with an analog, 2 channel system for the same amount of money. It isn't as efficient of a spend because you will buy all sorts of stuff you won't use.

Allen Fant
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Sloan-

Sloan-

if you enjoy the B&W speakers. Demo a pair of the 805D.

Sloansong
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I would love a pair of these,

I would love a pair of these, however they are not in the budget right now even at the accommodation price that I could get them for lol! Thanks for the vote though.

Sloansong
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I believe Bierfeldt is

I believe Bierfeldt is correct in suggesting new speakers at this point. I am just having a devil of a time figuring out which ones! Unfortunately manufactures don't advertise things like"hey our speakers are a touch warm" or "hey our speakers are monitors and very neutral" lol. I also need speakers that I can biwire as I don't want to go to the expense of having another set of rocket 88 made for the new speakers. Any other suggestions out there?

bierfeldt
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I can think of three speakers

I am sure there are many speakers that will meet your needs of:
- better bass response vs B&W CM5
- bi-wirable
- warmer than the B&Ws
- in the same league regarding detail, clarity, etc... (I assume you don't want to step back)

I know of and have heard three speakers that meet those needs and are roughly in your budget range
- Wharfedale Jade 3s which I mentioned before. These are extremely warm, warmer than the Revel Performa3s which I think are a touch warmer than the Monitor Audio Golds. $1500
- Monitor Audio Gold 100s - I listened to this line side by side with the CM5s and there is no comparison. The MA Golds were equally detailed (maybe more detailed) without that touch of almost brightness your get with the B&Ws. Easy to listen to and not fatiguing. $2199
- PSB Synchrony One B - Every time I hear a PSB speaker I am more impressed by the company. I feel like their speakers are perfectly neutral, provide an extraordinarily level of detail an represent a value at every price point they compete at. $2399 is over budget for you but Crutchfield has an open box for $2159 and to me these compete more with the PM1s than the CM5s.

Again, I am sure there are a bunch of others worth checking out but these are worth your time to hunt down a dealer to listen to them.

Sloansong
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Beirfeldt, thank you once

Beirfeldt, thank you once again for the reply. Do you have couple more suggestions for floor standers that would be within my budget? Also, have you listened to anything from Tekton?

caphill
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Pre-amp & Speaker Upgrades

Hi Sloansong. I think the weakest link in your setup would be the pre-amp. I wouldn't use an entry level receiver as a pre-amp. Pre-amp plays an important role in a hifi chain. It isn't just merely a volume control and input selector functions. Pre-amp is one of those hifi component that's often time overlooked. It'd be pointless to have a spectacular power amp if your pre-amp isn't providing high fidelity signal that is to be used and further amplified by power amp. If I were you I would sell the Marantz receiver and get either good quality dedicated stereo pre-amp with built-in DAC or something like the NAD C510 direct digital pre-amp w/ DAC. This unit normally retails for $1300. You might be able to find a used one for around $700. This is a digital pre-amp. It has 2 hdmi inputs and 1 hdmi out. Because you said you need something with hdmi switching for your PS4. It also has coaxial, optical, USB inputs as well as AES/EBU inputs. I think this would be your best solution when it comes to upgrading your pre-amp / DAC with hdmi switching capability if you must have hdmi switching built in. It will significantly improve the performance of your system. You can still connect your McIntosh cd/dvd player via its AES/EBU digital connection to the pre-amp if your Mac player had one, if not just use a coaxial digital cable. I'm sure your McIntosh power amp is a fine capable amp. McIntosh makes awesome amps but one thing should be of your concern is the age of your McIntosh power amp. I know the Mac amp that you have is quite old. Have you had it for a while or did you recently get it used? The caps may require replacement or unless they've been taken care of. Next thing you would want to upgrade your speakers if you want better bass response. Sometimes having a better performing pre-amp or the right pre-amp & power amp in your system could resolve this issue sometimes it does not, depending on the system synergy as a whole. If after messing around with various speaker placements wouldn't solve your lack of bass response issue, I would recommend getting different and better speakers. Floorstanders would be preferred if you want to get better and deeper bass response. I personally wasn't impressed at all with the B&W CM5. There are better speakers out there with similar price range. Or if you can stretch out your budget a little, I would look for a used pair of the B&W 805D if you prefer bookshelf speakers. These speakers normally retail for $5000/pair plus $700 for the matching stands. The speakers are bolted with screws on the stands. It's recommended that you get their matching stands but you can still get different and cheaper stands. You can easily find a used pair for maybe half of its original price. A lot of B&W dealers are massively discounting the 800D series because they just got the new 800 series in recently. Talk to your B&W dealer and work something out with them. The B&W 805D will be a significant upgrade from the CM5 and will perform significantly better than the CM5 in all aspects. I did hear these speakers several times before but they were being driven by either the Classe Sigma Series pre-amp / power amp combo or the Rotel separates pre / power amp combo most of the time. Needless to say these speakers are awesome. They are smooth balanced tonally musically rich and very refined sounding speakers. They have very good well defined bass response for bookshelf speakers. Their high frequency response (treble) is noticably much smoother and much more refined than the CM Series. All the 800D series use diamond tweeters whereas the CM series and the 600 series use dome aluminum tweeters. I own a pair of CM10 myself. At my local B&W dealers they are willing to lower down the price to $3000/pair with the stands or $2750/pair without the stands on demo or floor model since they are getting rid of them and will have to make a room for the new 800 series sets. Or you can also get a pair of B&W CM6 bookshelf new for $2000/pair without the stands. This will be a big step up from the CM5 (especially the CM5 S1). I did hear the CM6 before and they sounded fabolous, much improved from the CM5 S2. They sounded more spacious than the CM5 and not as bright as the CM5. They are noticably smoother than the CM5 with much better imaging and better soundstage width & depth and airer than the CM5. This is due to the tweeter being separated from the speaker cabinet and is decoupled. The CM6 cabinetery is built more rigid than the CM5. The CM6 are better in any ways than the CM5 and more importantly the bass is better than the CM5. So these are just my recommendations. Go demo as many as possible.

bierfeldt
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I agree and disagree with caphill

I agree that your preamp is the weakest link but swapping it isn't going to solve your immediate issue. Second, I just demo'd the CM6s driven by a Rogue Audio RP5 pre and Medusa power amp. They were so bright it turned me off of the RP5 and I ended up with an Ayre preamp instead. Again, I don't think it will solve your immediate issue but I would never discourage you from giving them a listen.

For floorstanders, I can think of three that outperform their price points and can still be driven well by 150w power amp.

Kef Q900 - this is an extremely detailed and refined speaker though I feel like it is neutral to a touch forward. I don't love them but many, many others do. I like it paired with a warmer power amp than you have but these are a must listen too at $1800 though they are a bit ugly.

Monitor Audio Silver 8s - I like he Golds better but at $2K a pair vs $5500 for the Gold 300s the Silver 8s represent a mind boggling good value. Perfectly neutral, balanced sound with great bass response for the price of $2K,

PSB Imagine T - this is the exact speaker I listened to when demoing the Ayre Preamp I bought. Neutral, highly detailed, with an expansive, deep soundstage and shockingly good bass response. Admittedly, they were being driven by $12K in equipment, but I fealt like they deserved to be driven by $12K in gear. I was so impressed I bought the preamp and am thinking these might be a nice option for the front channels in my home theatre. At $2200 they are a hair above budget but worth your time to listen to.

I can't say I have ever heard a Tekton speaker and have no POV or any idea where they fall in sound profile.

Sloansong
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Thank you for the detailed

Thank you for the detailed reply caphill, I agree with your thoughts about my pre-amp situation and think that it needs to be addressed. I am actually thinking of purchasing the B&W 683S2 speakers as I get a pretty good discount on them, about $910 for the pair brand new. If I don't like them I can take them back. I will also head back to the NAD website and check out the C510 as I may get a good accommodation on that as well. I do really like the D1050 DAC that I currently use. I have had the MC7150 for about a year and a half at this point and before that it languished on a shelf in a warehouse for about 10 years. It is going into the local authorized McIntosh service company within the next few weeks.

Sloansong
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Thanks for the prompt reply

Thanks for the prompt reply Bierfeldt. The monitors get great reviews and I will try to find some way to demo them. I sort of explained in my reply to Caphill but the reason I have been sticking with B&W is that I get quite a good accommodation with them because of my work. As I stated to him I may just grab a pair of the 683 S2's and give them a listen. Whathifi seems to rave about them although I cannot hear what they see in them but that may be simply because they are not being driven by decent amplification at the store. I can also get the Wharfedale WHS230 or the 240 floor standers for a great price as well so perhaps they would be a better place to start?I will check into the other floor standers you recommended though. Thanks again.

bierfeldt
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A few other thoughts

If you get a killer deal on B&W, what kind of price can you get on the CM9s for floor standing speakers? I think they are a superb speaker. I agree with you regarding the 683s but B&W has a very distinct and forward sound. I find the graininess of the 683s irritating and fatiguing which I don't hear in the CM9s. I also feel like the better bass response helps balance the treble.

Regarding the Wharfedales, I assume you mean the diamond 230 and 240s. I like the Diamonds but don't believe they are in the same league as the MA Silvers, B&W CMs, Kef Q900 or PSB Imagines. Can you get the same deal on the Wharfedlae Jade Floorstanders? Those are awesome speakers.

Since you get such a good deal on B&Ws, when you can update your preamp you may want to consider a pure tube unit. Check out this unit from PrimaLuna for $2199:

http://primaluna-usa.com/product-main/prologue-premium/pro-prem-pre

I like the Dialogue better but it is a bit above your budget at $3199.

The other option would be to look at something like the Rogue Audio Perseus at $2199

http://www.rogueaudio.com/Products_Perseus.htm

I am drawing a blank on the model number but you could also check out Mystere. These more modern tube units aren't anywhere near as warm as vintage units but are going to sound way warmer than most solid state units.

I spent quite a bit of time doing this research and was ultimately torn between the PrimaLuna Dialogue and the Ayre Acoustics K-5xeMP. I chose the Ayre largely because I was able to get the floor model at a great price and it fit on my shelf better.

I ultimately ended up at the dealer I bought from because of a conversation with Kevin at Upscale Audio. He is one of the most knowledgeable people in the country when it comes to tube electronics and can offer a very solid POV on PrimaLuna and Mystere.. In fact, my dealer in New Haven said they carry PrimLuna because of his involvement with the brand. It might be worth giving him a call and having a conversation.

Sloansong
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I can get the CM9's for about

I can get the CM9's for about $1700 for the pair. Do you feel that the 9's are comparable to the other $2000 floor standers you have been telling me about?

xkaapie
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Sound of the Speakers

If you love the sound of the B&W's the CM10's are great. Personally I don't love their sound, too harsh for me, and at $2000 for the pair, they are great if that's your budget and your sound preference. My advice would be the Monitor Audio Silver 6's at under $1500 a pair, if you enjoy a warmer, full bodied sound. If you want to stay under $900 for a great pair of floor standers, check out the Monitor Audio Bronze 6's, their sound is phenomenal, if you are looking for a warmer sound and their bass response is visceral. I bought a pair last month and am loving every minute spent with them. Good luck on your eventual choices

bierfeldt
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The CM9s

The CM9s are great speakers, CM10s are even better. Either of these would easily resolve your bass issue. However, they will not address the issue with the brightness of the tweeter. That is the combination of you electronics and speakers.

Relative to the other speakers, they can be just as good, if not better but you won't achieve that without at least a new preamp and it may require a preamp and power amp to get the sound right. As xKaapie said, relative to the B&Ws, the Monitor Audios will be warm.

You want to think about the system holistically. As an example, I have a Rogue Hydra power amp that is slightly forward/bright, the Ayre preamp is neutral and my Revel Speakers are slightly warm. The speakers and power amp offset and the preamp doesn't really color the sound. With a neutral source, my system sounds pretty neutral. My turntable is a touch warm so my analog sound is a touch warm while my DAC is a bit cool sound digital sound is a hair cool.

I think the B&Ws would make system matching harder in the long term and short term you would only be addressing half of your issues.

The B&Ws are a forward/bright. The Mc power amp is potentially neutral to a hair forward. This means you would want a very warm preamp to achieve a neutral sound. Alternatively, with a neutral speaker like Monitor Audio Silvers, a neutral to slightly warm preamp will work perfectly.

caphill
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The B&W CM6 can be bright

The B&W CM6 can be bright sounding if not paired with the right electronics. I listened to these couple days ago at my local hifi shop because they called me to let me know that they've just got the new Classe Sigma Monoblock amps ($8000/pair) in and they happened to be hooked up to the B&W CM6. Don't ask me why. Under normal circumstances the CM6 are very unlikely to be driven by the Classe electronics. Normally the Classe electronics are likely to be connected to the B&W 800 series or at least the CM10. Anyways, they didn't sound as bright driven by the Classe Sigma Mono amps & the Sigma pre-amp. Sounded noticably smoother very transparent and clean. However, I did hear the CM6 several months ago driven by the Rotel integrated amp and they sounded noticably brighter and not as smooth. They performed very different, the whole presentation was very inferior....well....it's to be expected. Sloansong, my first bookshelf speaker recommendation for you would be the B&W 805D at massively discounted price if you can work something out with your B&W dealer. The bass response of the 805D might or might not be sufficient for you. Give them a listen for yourself. I found the bass of the 805D to be adequate but again it all depends on the electronics, room size, room shape, furnishing materials & speaker placements and what kind of music you normally listen to. But floorstanders would normally put out better & more powerful & deeper bass. I would avoid the B&W 600 series if I were you. The CM9 would perform better than the 683 S2 but I wasn't quite sold either on the CM9. For the same original price of the CM9 S2 ($3300/pair) I would look for other alternatives from either Dynaudio or the PSB or the MA or the Revels or Rega. If you want to get solid floorstanders from the B&W I would look for the CM10 or the 800D series. The CM10s cost only $700/pair more than a brand new pair of the CM9 S2 ($3300/pair). But the CM10 performs way better than the CM9 in all aspects. The difference in performance are vast. It's like days & nights. I demoed both the CM9 S2 and the CM10 before I bought the CM10. Given proper and high quality electronics the performance of the CM10 is closer to that of the 804D than it is to the CM9 S2. Except the 804D sounded smoother than the CM10 in the treble region cause the 804D uses a diamond tweeter, which is superior than the CM10. The technology from the 800 series trickled down to the CM10. The CM10's midrange driver is decoupled with a fixed suspension bar going all the way to the back of speaker cabinet just exactly as the 800 series floorstanders. So the midrange driver is in separate compartment as the bass drivers so that the midrange driver does not resonate with the bass drivers. And the CM10's tweeter is also decoupled and separated from the speaker cabinet. It sits on top of the cabinet. The technology found in the 800 series is implemented in the CM10.
Sloansong I would stick with Bierfieldt's recommended floorstanders if those are within your budget range or unless if you're willing to stretch out your budget a little I would look for a used pair of CM10. These normally retail for $4000/pair but you might be able to find a used pair for around $3000ish maybe. You will be rewarded with the results. But you will have to upgrade your pre-amp though otherwise you will not achieve optimal performance of your system as a whole. I would at the very least get the NAD C510 digital pre-amp cause this unit has hdmi switching built in and can pass through the video signal. Alternatively, you can get those preamps recommended by Bierfieldt. I'm sure those are better preamps than the NAD C510 but those preamps don't have hdmi switchings so you will have to run the video signals from your PS4 and other devices via hdmi directly to your tv and connect the coaxial digital output from your PS4 and other devices to the pre-amp. But you will not be able to get a full bandwith resolutions of those lossless HD surround sound formats from the PS4 & PS3 games. HDMI is the only digital connection that can transmit those DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby True-HD formats from bluray movies to their full bandwith resolutions. If you use either coax or optical digital cables these formats will be downgraded to lossy DTS or lossy Dolby Digital formats. I'm personally not familiar with the surround sound formats of both PS4 & PS3 games. With the NAD C510 preamp if connected via hdmi you will get a full bandwith resolutions of these lossless surround sound formats but they will be downmixed to stereo. But as for two-channel music, those preamps that were recommended by Bierfieldt will perform significantly better than the NAD C510. However, the NAD C510 is quite good for the price, for sure it will be a big step up sonically from your entry level Marantz receiver. Wish you the best and let us know what you finally decide on.

caphill
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The CM10s are $4000/pair

Xkaapie, a pair of B&W CM10s are $4000, not $2000.

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Sloan-

Sloan-

the pre-amp, is the heart od any system. You will want to nail this one down prior to any other purchase.

Sloansong
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Thank you all for your

Thank you all for your comments and considerations on this thread. You have all given me a lot to think about. The first order of business will be to get the Mac into the shop for servicing to insure that it is performing at it's best. Then I think the pre-amp has to be my next consideration as I am not completely unhappy with my speakers performance. Then it will be onto speakers. This will take a bit of time but I will check back in on this thread periodically and keep you all updated.

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Nods to Caphill

Thanks for the correction, meant to say each :)

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Ok, so the Mac went to the

Ok, so the Mac went to the shop today an I am left running my rig through the 1602 for the next 3-4 weeks. I see what you guys meant about the Marantz sound. There is less focus and the bass is definitely stronger simply running through it. The top end of the Marantz is definitely a bit harsher as the gain goes up. So I obviously need something that has the bottom end of the Marantz and the top and middle of the Mac! I also noticed that the new 7005 by Marantz is using the same Cirrus DAC chip as my NAD 1050. I wonder if I would get the same results that I am hearing now with the 7005? Better bottom end but not so good on the top? What do you folks surmise?

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DAC chips don't mean anything

Hello Sloansong,
First I would like to emphasize on the bass performance of your setup running straight through your Marantz receiver vs your McIntosh amp. You stated that you get stronger bass simply by running through the Marantz receiver as compared to the McIntosh. Define stronger! I'm pretty sure that the bass was better controlled and better defined driven by your Mac amp and less boomy as opposed to the receiver. Having better controlled bass sometimes can be perceived as having weaker bass. One might perceive it that way, it all depends on the whole synergy of your system and how each component interact with each other.
Secondly, as you must know, having exact same DAC chip(s) out of different units will not give you the same performance results. All that matters most is the overall design, implementation & execution of the DAC unit, the DAC configurations, its circuitry, its pathways, the analog output stages and buffers, the digital filters, power supply used, the quality of the component parts, etc. All these factors would dictate how well it performs. A $10,000 standalone DAC might use the same DAC chip(s) as the one used in the $1000 standalone DAC or the one found in receiver. But they all will perform differently. It all depends on the overall design, implenentation & execution of the unit.
I hope this would help.

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Cahill, I agree with your

Cahill, I agree with your entire post. I had some time at my local hifi shop today (fred's sound of music) and the same thing came up again. Speakers, speakers, speakers lol. But you are right on the money about the bass from the Marantz, it is definitely looser. And now that I have been without the Mac for a couple of days I have decided that the entire top end of my little HT receiver is an absolute incoherent mess. I really miss my mac now. Once I get it back the speaker hunt will begin in earnest. Thanks for the post.

caphill
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Pre-amp Upgrade Priority

Sloansong, you need to upgrade the pre-amp first. I would get rid of the entry level Marantz rwceiver if I were you and get e very decent dedicated stereo pre-amp with built-in DAC. After you take care of the pre-amp then you can upgrade the speakers later on. Your McIntosh power amp is fine. You just need to get a good quality pre-amp to go with your Mac power amp, otherwise you will not achieve optimal performance of your system. Your McIntosh cd player I'm sure is a fine cd player but you need to do something with the pre-amp stage. The pre-amp is whewhea low voltage signal amplification takes place. This is very crucial. The amplified signal will then be further amplified in the power amp. No matter how good your power amp is but if you're feeding the power amp with the bad or non high fidelity signal from the pre-amp, that signal will just get further amplified by the power amp and the end results will be a disaster. The power amp does high voltage current amplication for the speakers to use. You have to nail down the pre-amp first. You can upgrade your speakers after you upgrade your pre-amp.

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Duly noted Cahill- the search

Duly noted Cahill- the search begins when I get the Mac back

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