Road to a simpler hi-fi life

michaelf1000

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Hello fellow enthusiasts. Can you spare a few moments to help guide me on the next steps of my journey. I suspect what you say will help a number of people considering making changes of a similar type to a simpler hi-fi life. Here goes.

Due to relocation and other life changes, I recently sold all my equipment, built up over the last 30+ years and am ready to start again with a minimal streaming only system.
The last system (for 20 years, except BS) was Tube Technology Unisis amp, Naim NVI, Bluesound node 2i, B&W 805N in rosewood with their stands, Kimber 8TC, DNM reson IC, Russ andrews power cables. The sound enjoyed most on this system was predominantly midrange detail, presented in a beguiling way, free from top end nasties, on rock and middle of the road current music. The TT Unisis, IMO definitely brought out the magic in the midrange and allowed music to breathe. A focus on musicality is of prime importance, not gimmicks or looks. A new valve amp would be an obvious choice, but I'd like to experience something without the limitations; heat, running costs, weight for transportation, etc, in case I decide to relocate to sunnier climes. Scotland is lovely but not enough of of the time methinks.
Based on this, speakers that can suit or be tuned to different rooms may be the best option.

Equipment owned in the past;
Enjoyed: T/T - Rega Planar 2, 3, LP 12, CDP - DPA Renaissance, Naim CDi, Naim NVI, LSPK - EPOS ES11, Sonus faber Concerto, B&W 805 (box), B&W 805 (rounded).
Not so much: Audiolab 8000A, Ruark Talisman 1, REL Strata.
Most enjoyable system: DPA renaissance, Unisis, B&W 805 (rounded).

System options by preference:

1. Active speakers with streaming capability like Buckhardt A500 / B&W Duo.

2. All in one box with small / medium size speakers like Peach tree nova 300 with Amphion 3S.

3. Amp, streamer/DAC and small / medium size speakers.

Budget is up to £8,000 but as usual, less is better for more :)
Room dimensions; FT: 13.5 W x 16 L x 7.5 H (M: 4.1 x 4.8 x 2.2) Laminate floors with rugs. Not decided yet on placement; firing across or along the room length.

Many thanks in advance for your patience and thoughts, Michael
 
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pmcuk

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If you love midrange and valve amps I wouldn't compromise on that. Just buy a not so heavy 300b SE amp - they do exist. And then get some sensitive small/medium size speakers like over 90db. You should be able to run your DAC or streamer directly into your amp, so no need for a preamp or just use a passive. Or a computer like a Mac Mini and a good Chinese DAC.

This way you keep all the magic of your valves and the wonderful midrange, and apart from the streamer/DAC you have several thousands to invest in a really good amp and really good speakers. If you lose the valve amp you will be at the mercy of whatever solid state amp they put in active speakers, and not only that but you can't mix and match the amp and speaker. I personally as a SE valve amp user wouldn't be prepared to lose that - it's the heart of everything.
 
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bigrod

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You can put a stonking system together for £8 grand.. At that sort of budget it would buy you a system costing well over £25 grand ten years ago ..
There are some really good pieces of kit in the classifieds at the moment ..
 

hiacedrifter

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Hi, just to add a permutation for your option 3 - you could have a streaming preamp used with a power amp. Still 2 boxes but slightly different config.
 

StingRay

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Buchardt A500
You can try at home but will cost 100 Euros to return. They have room adjustment. Not sure they will give you the sound you are looking for, will be very different from what you had before. Cost only around £3.5k. If you want actives there is a similar Finnish company to Buchard, which has the same policy, try at home an return for 100 euros.
You May want to try some actives at a dealer if you have not heard them before.
I would probably go for a streamer plus actives.
 
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michaelf1000

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You can put a stonking system together for £8 grand.. At that sort of budget it would buy you a system costing well over £25 grand ten years ago ..
There are some really good pieces of kit in the classifieds at the moment ..
Thanks. Getting the right speaker for the room and them some of that fairy dust will be the challenge. Took me 15 years to get the best speakers I could. Sadly they 805s did not come with a sonus faber tweeter.....
 

michaelf1000

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You can try at home but will cost 100 Euros to return. They have room adjustment. Not sure they will give you the sound you are looking for, will be very different from what you had before. Cost only around £3.5k. If you want actives there is a similar Finnish company to Buchard, which has the same policy, try at home an return for 100 euros.
You May want to try some actives at a dealer if you have not heard them before.
I would probably go for a streamer plus actives.
Thanks Stingray. I suppose it is worth a punt for €100. It would be good to hear from some A500 owners who have had valve amps what they think.
 

It Cost How Much!?!

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Sonus Faber Guarneri (older version about £4.5K), Graaf GM50B mk2 (about £2K) and a streamer. All the midrange beauty you could want and great non offensive treble. The valve amp even has a remote. Get the amp with original packing if you want to move at some point, same with the speakers.
 
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michaelf1000

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Hi, just to add a permutation for your option 3 - you could have a streaming preamp used with a power amp. Still 2 boxes but slightly different config.
Sure sounds like a good possibility. More flexibility in the sound. I'll add it to the list if I cannot
Sonus Faber Guarneri (older version about £4.5K), Graaf GM50B mk2 (about £2K) and a streamer. All the midrange beauty you could want and great non offensive treble. The valve amp even has a remote. Get the amp with original packing if you want to move at some point, same with the speakers.
I see you caught onto my romantic notion of owning sonus fabers. Thanks for the recommendations. 👍
 

DomT

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As you have owned and likes Naim in the past the latest Unity Nova could be an idea. These days Naim was a more textured sound. And I would probably pair the Naim with a pair of Harbeths or ATCs.

I tried to go this route when we downsized and moved to Portugal but I always found separates easily outclassed the all-in-ones. Having said that if the sound could be good enough then other’s opinions don’t matter.

Am not keen on the Linn or Meridian sound although others are.
 

garn63

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It sounds like you intend to go in one direction...but could end up going back to a similar situation :)
I have trimmed back my "stuff" & although I fall back into old ways (sometimes) I am well aware that I am now pretty happy with my system. It's all in the mind isn't it ? If it's what you really want then make a good job of assembling your new system ? Keep it simple and trust only your own ears, then you might be able to sit back contentedly ?
One could assemble a cracking sound system for 5 or 6k if you shop well. Streaming/digital playback has never sounded so good either. Maybe have a couple of pairs of drastically diff spkrs. Each will remind you of why you like the other, whichever pair you are listening to. There is a time in life where we should not be fussing over things imo but maybe enjoying & discovering music with a fresh take ? ..although I do understand most won't agree with this. ;)
That's my take. And it works for me. I tend to smile more than I obsess about things these days, and listening to music is more enjoyable than it's ever been. Good luck !
* Or stuff it and blow a kings ransom on hifi because it makes you feel happy :)
 
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michaelf1000

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As you have owned and likes Naim in the past the latest Unity Nova could be an idea. These days Naim was a more textured sound. And I would probably pair the Naim with a pair of Harbeths or ATCs.

I tried to go this route when we downsized and moved to Portugal but I always found separates easily outclassed the all-in-ones. Having said that if the sound could be good enough then other’s opinions don’t matter.

Am not keen on the Linn or Meridian sound although others are.
Hi Dom, funnily enough last year I compared my NVI to the Nova and both the sales guy and myself agreed that neither was better, just a slightly different presentation. Not bad for a unit made in 2006. Due to this, I decided not to go that route.
IMO once I got past the pursuit of hi-fi sound and got back to enjoying the music I think compromise is possible, as long as I am discovering and enjoying new music. Spotify reminds me of being back in the old record shop where you could listen to new stuff recommended to you. Of joy :)

Strangely enough, Portugal is one of the places I have considering and your advice is greatly received. I just remembered that I had a Merdian 200 transport, connected to a DPA Little Bit, but other than that I have generally found their sound not to my taste.
 
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MVJ

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For me the simplest option is number one active speakers & streamer/pre like the Cambridge 851n streamer dac pair of XLR speaker cables and your done. One box connected to the internet & two speakers.👍
 
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paulbfd

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I went from four boxes down to one.

I call it my Danish Simplivity System: Gato DIA250s-NPM & Dali Epicon 2 speakers.

The Gato will play from network storage, some streaming services and Bluetooth, all controllable via phone. I've got a NAS drive with a boat load of FLAC files on but 90% of the time I just listen via BT as it's so simple. If I'm in the house on my own and fancy some "serious" listening then I'll fire the NAS up.

Gato is also class D so potentially saving a few quid there too!
 
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DomT

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One thing to think about Michael is the app that you will need to use. You had Bluesound in the past and many say it’s good. I used to have a Naim Muso and thought that the App was good. I now have Innuos and Auralic. The Auralic is good enough but the Innuos experience makes searching for songs and artists so much simpler as the search function is embedded everywhere. An Innuos with their onboard DAC or an external one with actives (maybe ATC) would be a great combination. Despite trying to downsize I am really enjoying both Auralic and Innuos for what they bring to the music both in functional terms as well as sonically.
 

karlsushi

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funnily enough last year I compared my NVI to the Nova and both the sales guy and myself agreed that neither was better, just a slightly different presentation.
I think this is your situation in a nutshell. If you want to downscale towards a one box system, then I think you are going to have to accept that you won't get anything comparable with your old separates with valves.

The Naim had a reputation for being one of the best one box solutions out there, so if that doesn't cut it, I'm not sure what will.

You will be aware of similar offerings from other companies, but I'm not aware of any one box system that uses valves.

NAD and Lyngdorf options give you the bonus of DSP room correction that you are after, but they're both Class D, so won't sound like valves.

You may get some very high quality sound from a streamer plus actives as others have suggested, but will it be comparable with your old system? Unlikely.
 

Tintinabulum

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Consider Meridian active speakers, cheap as chips second hand, no love (no idea why) gives seriously cheap pricing. Pimped Node2i/Pi based front end. 7200.2 DSP.
 

michaelf1000

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I went from four boxes down to one.

I call it my Danish Simplivity System: Gato DIA250s-NPM & Dali Epicon 2 speakers.

The Gato will play from network storage, some streaming services and Bluetooth, all controllable via phone. I've got a NAS drive with a boat load of FLAC files on but 90% of the time I just listen via BT as it's so simple. If I'm in the house on my own and fancy some "serious" listening then I'll fire the NAS up.

Gato is also class D so potentially saving a few quid there too!
Thanks Paul, sounds interesting, I will add this to my list. cheers M
 
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