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Arcsabre

Dark horse speakers at $4k?

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Hi all.
Recently moved from Mel to Perth. Left my Hi-fi and AV system in my Melbourne house. Recently found myself couldn't live with just a sonos Play1, so thinking about getting a proper system in Perth.

Mrs said she would only tolerate one system this time...and considering our place in Perth isn't very big (a living room of appx. 4m x 5m), I've decided to get just one system for HT and music. 

Yea suck I know. But this is life. LOL.

But there is always a brighter side in life. Once constraint is applied on you, you will usually find relieved, because now you've got less decisions to make.

So in terms of Amps, I've narrowed down to Arcam AVR850. It's probably the only AVR on market which could drive stereo speakers for music without breaking a sweat. 

It generates 130W per channel power when playing 2-channels over a pair of 8ohm speakers. I've gone through all Japanese brands such as Denon, Onkyo, Marantz and Yamaha over the year. Although some of the brands (I always buy the flagship model of AVR) had nice specifications/power output figures but I know what I actually heard is not that. I believe you know what I mean. So this time I'll spend $10k on an AVR...one of the best AVR on market actually, in the hope it would make things all different (although Mrs will not know as many ZEROs in the price).

After I've decided which AVR to go for, I went to a few shops such as Douglas Hi-Fi and Addicted to Audio for speakers. I've already decided I'd only go for bookshelves due to the size of the room. I listened to a few highly rated speakers such as KEF LS50, PMC twenty5.21, Dynaudio special forty .etc, but eventually only fell in love with two pair of speakers.

One is Dynaudio Confidence 1 Platinum. Can't feel the cabinet after eyes closed. Not at all. And no one can feel the crossover, which is quite rare among Dynaudio speakers. Orchestra played like reallife (this is actually extremely difficult) and bass was like floorstands. Was $13k new but are now on discount of $8.5k.

The other pair is Amphion Argon3s. Real staging with tremendous depth image. No crossover felt. Perfect throughout all frequencies. I remember hearing the Argon2 when I just came to Aus back in 2009. Argon2 played the most beautiful strings I've ever heard from a pair of bookshelves. Now is the 3s, even better. Bass is down to 30hz -- I know the reality isn't usually as beautiful as figures but I can tell you the bass was superb. The PMC bookshelves was like just a single tweeter unit when compared to these. 

Argon3s are priced at somewhere around $3700. I haven’t seen much discussion on these speakers, not even on the brand, but I came across Amphion speakers twice in my life, and liked them a lot both times, I think there’s something in them that I really want.

 

Now I can't decide - C1 Platinum and Argon3s are in different stores. On one hand I am a believer in the rule -  "you get what you pay", especially with a well-accepted brand like Dynaudio. On the other hand, if I really have nothing to complain about Argon3s, and they are easier driven - 8ohm vs 4ohm(C1), getting the Amphion will probably be an easier task for Arcam AVR850, although it is the most powerful AVR on market.

Any thoughts? I'm not really asking you guys to make a decision for me, just wanna have a discussion. Have you heard these speakers? Do you have any similar experience?

 

 

Edited by Arcsabre

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An interesting story you tell Arcsabre.  I don't quite understand why you're set on an avr, are you planning a ht, 5 or 7 speaker set up?  If so I get why you'd want the AVR, otherwise I'd be looking at a 2 channel hifi with floorstanders.

 

I mean you like the bass from the C1's, so a floorstanders bass isn't going to be too much right?

 

And if you're opting for a HT setup then whatever standmount speakers you choose you'll probably want a subwoofer for movies at least.  So floorstanders could compensate for that without using more floor space.

 

What are your sources going to be i wonder?

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At $10,000 I'd be looking at an AVP and multi-channel power amp over an AVR.  Although I've heard good things about the Arcam, a single box has too many limitations.  It may be the best AVR on the market, but it's an AVR nonetheless.

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I think with that calibre of speaker, as fine as the Arcam likely is, it would be better to go with potentially an integrated amp with HT bypass and a cheaper AVR. You will likely get significantly better two channel performance.

 

Also, if you like the Amphion, I would suggest going with that brand based on the price mostly. I have owned C1 platinums myself, they are amazing, but the issue you will have (aside from the Arcam not being able to get the most out of them) is with matching the centre speaker. The Confidence centre alone is around 10k. You could feasibly use a cheaper dynaudio centre, but even still you arent going to get out of it for less than 4-5k, let alone other surround speakers.

 

If you like the Dynaudio's did you get to listen to the new Contour series ? they use the esotar tweeter like the Confidence, they arent as good, but they are still nice, and you may be able to get a full suite of HT speakers for a more resonable cost.

 

In this context I think it will be important long term, if you are set on bookshelf speakers to get a good quality subwoofer. Which can certainly enhance HT experience significantly, but also benefit two channel listening if set up well.

 

Im sure you have done the math, but if you stick with amphion, your total spend may be circa 20-25k for amp/speakers, if you go with confidence it could be 35K+

 

I guess a big factor is, what will be the ratio of two channel v HT listening, this may guide where it is appropriate to focus the $$

 

good luck, sounds like a fine system you are assembling.

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I really think it is a mistake to assume that smaller stand mount speakers are the best option for certain rooms.There are plenty of good floor standing speakers that take up no more floor space and which will probably sound better-especially if they are three way rather than a two way.Speakers like the ATC SCM 40 or Opera Seconda spring to mind .Furthermore speakers like those which are sealed box are probably more likely to suit smaller rooms than ported stand mounts.Especially those with rear ports.

I have tried plenty of highly rated  two way stand mounts in my medium sized room but none of them sound nearly as good as sealed box three ways like my Gales or Yamaha NS75Ts.

Edited by THOMO

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If buying an Arcam AVR, ask about extended warranties, I've not had good experiences. I'd be buying a Marantz 8805 processor or 8802a if you can pick 1 up on run out along with an Elektra 7ch power amp.

 

At least then you'd be able to power ANY speaker you choose. What % of use will be 2ch and HT. If mostly HT, I'd go stand mounts as you'll be crossing over at 80hz anyway.

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2 hours ago, warweary said:

An interesting story you tell Arcsabre.  I don't quite understand why you're set on an avr, are you planning a ht, 5 or 7 speaker set up?  If so I get why you'd want the AVR, otherwise I'd be looking at a 2 channel hifi with floorstanders.

 

I mean you like the bass from the C1's, so a floorstanders bass isn't going to be too much right?

 

And if you're opting for a HT setup then whatever standmount speakers you choose you'll probably want a subwoofer for movies at least.  So floorstanders could compensate for that without using more floor space.

 

What are your sources going to be i wonder?

Thanks warweary. I’ll be setting up an surrounding system so that’s why I’m getting an AVR. But I’ll get the LR channel speakers, just to start with.

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2 hours ago, Kaynin said:

At $10,000 I'd be looking at an AVP and multi-channel power amp over an AVR.  Although I've heard good things about the Arcam, a single box has too many limitations.  It may be the best AVR on the market, but it's an AVR nonetheless.

Thanks Kaynin. Any particular model you could recommend? I don’t mind go for separates and I agree with you it might produce better outcome.

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Then if you are thinking of using a Sub, getting the crossover right or even a sub good enough, to not spoil all that C1 magic, I think that is a mistake. And C1 with an AVR, more problems.

Edited by rogersquared

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15 minutes ago, rogersquared said:

I have C1's. No way I would use them for HT fronts. They just don't have the bass you can feel. To be honest they sound terrible for movies. I would prefer $2k floorstanders over C1s for HT. Also I don't think C1s can do Orchestra. Chamber yes, but Orchestra gets them a bit confused.

 

Then if you are thinking of using a Sub, getting the crossover right or even a sub good enough, to not spoil all that C1 magic, I think that is a mistake. And C1 with an AVR, more problems. It takes serious money OR serious work to get the C1s sounding like 10k speakers. 

Hi Roger. I haven't heard the C1. Not sure if C1 platinum is very different from C1 but I'll assume they at least sound similar. My experience with C1P in Addicted to audios is quite good, not sure if it's because the listening room was quite small (around 4m x 4m). If your space is bigger than this then I can understand why you can't feel their Bass. 

The power amp they used to drive C1P in Addicted to audios was Moon 888, with an output of 1776Watt (yes) when hooked to 4ohm speakers like C1P. They also use the same system for C4P and I think both pair of speakers were running at close to their full potential. I do think the orchestra played through this system was very close to real and it suppose to since it's an $189K amp after all...

Edited by Arcsabre

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On 08/11/2018 at 11:51 AM, Arcsabre said:

Hi Roger. I haven't heard the C1. Not sure if C1 platinum is very different from C1 but I'll assume they at least sound similar. My experience with C1P in Addicted to audios is quite good, not sure if it's because the listening room was quite small (around 4m x 4m). If your space is bigger than this then I can understand why you can't feel their Bass. 

The power amp they used to drive C1P in Addicted to audios was Moon 888, with an output of 1776Watt (yes) when hooked to 4ohm speakers like C1P. They also use the same system for C4P and I think both pair of speakers were running at close to their full potential. I do think the orchestra played through this system was very close to real and it suppose to since it's an $120K amp after all...

Were you able to compare the sound of orchestra music on the C1 and C4?

Edited by rogersquared

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1 minute ago, rogersquared said:

I have the C1 Platinum. Were you able to compare the sound of orchestra music on the C1 and C4?

No. I was looking for bookshelves so I listened to C4 for like 5 mins (they were playing some country music when I got there) and the guy there switched to Dynaudio Special forty for me. Tried a few orchestra, blasting movie soundtracks.etc then I switched to C1 and played the same tracks. So, I didn't compare C1 and C4 back to back since I am not looking for floorstander this time.

From what I heard from C4, they were slightly more relaxed (can't find better words) when driven by Moon888. You don't have to close eyes to image, the singer was just standing in the room. There wasn't much bass in those country songs so I can't tell how good the low frequencies are.

But still, the C1 when driven by that monster amp was the best bookshelves I've ever heard.

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1 hour ago, Arcsabre said:

Thanks Kaynin. Any particular model you could recommend?

 

 

Marantz have done AVP's very well for a long time, so depending on your needs you can look at current or recent models.  A multi channel amp of quality such as the Elektra or Holton (not sure if Holton still do multi-channels, but have done so in the past).  I didn't see in your OP how many channels you want to drive, or your AV expectations.

 

 

Here's a store in Melbourne that sells Elektra (3, 5 & 7 channel) and Marantz flagship AVP 8805 (this may be overkill depending on your needs, but there's also the 7703 pre for less).  I know you could get the 8805 & 7 channel Elektra as a package deal delivered to Perth for $10K -

 

https://www.melbournehifi.com.au/collections/elektra/products/elektra-theatron-hd-7-channel-power-amplifier

https://www.melbournehifi.com.au/collections/marantz/products/marantz-ma-av8805-preamplifier

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ray H said:

I think with that calibre of speaker, as fine as the Arcam likely is, it would be better to go with potentially an integrated amp with HT bypass and a cheaper AVR. You will likely get significantly better two channel performance.

 

Also, if you like the Amphion, I would suggest going with that brand based on the price mostly. I have owned C1 platinums myself, they are amazing, but the issue you will have (aside from the Arcam not being able to get the most out of them) is with matching the centre speaker. The Confidence centre alone is around 10k. You could feasibly use a cheaper dynaudio centre, but even still you arent going to get out of it for less than 4-5k, let alone other surround speakers.

 

If you like the Dynaudio's did you get to listen to the new Contour series ? they use the esotar tweeter like the Confidence, they arent as good, but they are still nice, and you may be able to get a full suite of HT speakers for a more resonable cost.

 

In this context I think it will be important long term, if you are set on bookshelf speakers to get a good quality subwoofer. Which can certainly enhance HT experience significantly, but also benefit two channel listening if set up well.

 

Im sure you have done the math, but if you stick with amphion, your total spend may be circa 20-25k for amp/speakers, if you go with confidence it could be 35K+

 

I guess a big factor is, what will be the ratio of two channel v HT listening, this may guide where it is appropriate to focus the $$

 

good luck, sounds like a fine system you are assembling.

Thanks Ray. referring to your 2nd last paragraph I do watch lots of movies. But Mrs and I literally have music on all day (except sleep hours) so I would say stereo playback is important for me. 

I have considered of getting an hifi amp with AVR passthrough function because I know even AVR850 wouldn't be able to be compared to any two channel amp with a price tag of five or more figures. However, I'll probably just start with one Amp. And get a much better hifi amp when the time comes.

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@Arcsabre

 

I would have a good look at these. I sold my BR1s due to a change in use of my room, but I thought they were fantastic speakers. The BR2s are level above again. These wouldn't take up much more floor space than a pair of C1s as the C1s are so deep, the BR2s are front ported which gives you much more flexibility on positioning, good for a small room, and the bass is excellent. If you can get a listen to a pair of any of the BR range in Perth, I think you might be very surprised.

 

I also second the comments about the Arcam AVR - I would be going for a really nice 2 channel integrated with HT bypass, and a much cheaper AVR for HT duties. I have had separate stereo and HT systems using the same speakers i my living room for almost 10 years now, after having just an AVR, and I wouldn't go back.

 

 

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Hello, if you get a chance, do have a listen to the new Krix Esoterix Altum.

 

I had a listen at the factory, and I think the performance level is very high.

 

The bass driver looks tiny in the photos, but it is actually 6½".

 

Regards

Grant

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2 hours ago, Kaynin said:

 

 

Marantz have done AVP's very well for a long time, so depending on your needs you can look at current or recent models.  A multi channel amp of quality such as the Elektra or Holton (not sure if Holton still do multi-channels, but have done so in the past).  I didn't see in your OP how many channels you want to drive, or your AV expectations.

 

 

Here's a store in Melbourne that sells Elektra (3, 5 & 7 channel) and Marantz flagship AVP 8805 (this may be overkill depending on your needs, but there's also the 7703 pre for less).  I know you could get the 8805 & 7 channel Elektra as a package deal delivered to Perth for $10K -

 

https://www.melbournehifi.com.au/collections/elektra/products/elektra-theatron-hd-7-channel-power-amplifier

https://www.melbournehifi.com.au/collections/marantz/products/marantz-ma-av8805-preamplifier

 

 

Hi Kaynin. Did some research and the Power Amp you recommended was very interesting. It has like the lowest distortion I've ever seen on AV Power Amps. Looks like they are only for sale in Melbourne. I'll definetely try it the next time I am back to Mel.

In terms of Pre amp, do you think Marantz AVP8805 is the best choice? I'm also looking at AVR860 from Arcam - Also an AV processor at around the same price mark. But it's equiped with DIRAC room calibration, which has got quite some compliments recently.

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@Arcsabre

 

Another speaker that my be worth listening to if you get a chance is the Dali Epicon 2.

 

I have owned Dynaudio C1 and C2 Platinums and currently own the Epicon 6 and really like them. They are not better than the Dynaudio Confidence series per se, but equally as good IMO;

 

https://addictedtoaudio.com.au/collections/speakers/products/dali-epicon-2-bookshelf-speakers

 

You may be able to listen to them in Perth at A2A who also have Dynaudio.

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6 hours ago, blybo said:

along with an Elektra 7ch power amp.

 

At least then you'd be able to power ANY speaker you choose. 

@joz thoughts? 😂😂😂😂

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1 hour ago, Arcsabre said:

Hi Kaynin. Did some research and the Power Amp you recommended was very interesting. It has like the lowest distortion I've ever seen on AV Power Amps. Looks like they are only for sale in Melbourne.

No, they can be bought Australia wide.  The link I posted is to Melbourne hifi who ship Australia wide.  There are other retailers who do the same, such as Mclean's in Sydney.

 

1 hour ago, Arcsabre said:

 

In terms of Pre amp, do you think Marantz AVP8805 is the best choice? I'm also looking at AVR860 from Arcam - Also an AV processor at around the same price mark. But it's equiped with DIRAC room calibration, which has got quite some compliments recently.

 

Hard to say if the 8805 is the best choice for you without knowing more about your set-up and goals - but it's a market leading AVP, no doubt about that.  The main point is, what I have suggested is one option, there's plenty out there.  I just think at $10K you're better off going separates in one form or another.

 

Personally I'm happy with Audyssey pro-calibrations.  I have the pro-kit and do it myself, but haven't heard any DIRAC results.

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57 minutes ago, jakeyb77 said:

@joz thoughts? 😂😂😂😂

You do know @joz uses Elektra HD power amps to power his SGR's right? 😜

Edited by blybo

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26 minutes ago, blybo said:

You do know @joz uses Elektra HD power amps to power his SGR's right? 😜

Oh yes I have heard them sing.... and stop... and sing.... and stop. But to be fair they aren’t just “any” speakers 

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My two cents!

I would go with a substantially cheaper AVR, possibly singing from the Yamaha Aventage range and then add a decent integrated amp with HT bypass feature. Much more likely to get a decent two channel sound.

 

A decent second hand (or new) integrated will also hold its value much better than any AVR that will eventually become obsolete. You may as well burn the $10,000 for the Arcam!

 

The boys at Douglas are legends! Ask nicely and they will let you take speakers and amps home for the week to try in your room. Also check out Frank Prowse if you haven't already, truly above and beyond customer service and again will let you do home demos!

 

This coming from a 2 channel freak, I can't remember the last time I booted up the HT system, I just get so much more enjoyment from music. If I bought $5-6k pair of speakers, if never be satisfied driving them with any kind of AVR, id always be wondering what they sounded like if I bought a proper 2ch amp to match with them.

 

For what it's worth, I like the idea of the KEF ls50 system. I believe you can buy the speakers as single boxes from some dealers also to use as a centre speaker.

 

Haven't heard the Dynaudios you mention but the Amphions are lovely! I bet they don't sound as good with the AVR as anything Douglas HF demo'd them with in the shop though!

 

Whatever your decision, good luck and I hope you end up with something that gives you as much enjoyment as I get from my system!

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Moderator

The problem with the expensive avr is it will be superseded...as Av tech moves at quite a pace... with an annual churn.

 

am not familiar with arc am providing updates to keep up to spec. My flagship Denon avp was kept up to date with hard ware and software updates... but this is rare ...my maranta Av processor has been kept up to date with hard ware and software updates for 3 years, not leaving me wanting but not expecting more updates...

 

problem is when avr is superseded out goes the heart brains and engine of your entire system 2ch and Av,

 

chevk link ink in my signature. I run a 2ch dedicated setup and full 11.1.5 Av setup integrated to work as one. Gives best of both worlds. Only thing I’d update is my processor if tech changes, my 2ch gear and power amps can stay... no need to throw baby out with bath water. 

 

If 2ch is priority spend majority of budget in that if Av priority spend majority on that side. Just make sure as per above your 2ch pre amp or integrated has hit bypass or hit pass through or processor pass through it ht direct included... and you too can combine systems for best of both worlds :)

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Moderator
5 hours ago, jakeyb77 said:

@joz thoughts? 😂😂😂😂

 

4 hours ago, blybo said:

You do know @joz uses Elektra HD power amps to power his SGR's right? 😜

 

4 hours ago, jakeyb77 said:

Oh yes I have heard them sing.... and stop... and sing.... and stop. But to be fair they aren’t just “any” speakers 

 

Ok the Elektra 7HD

Well in my situation and the the fact that at times I tend to push my Theatre7HD a bit :yes: they can go into protection. By the time I get there it’s bloody loud though!

I have also run the Theatre on Electrostats years ago and managed to do the same.

With low impedances and high power they can and do shut down.

But if you chose a Reference HD 2 channel they are far more stable at high power and low impedances. ( but I have still managed to shut one down, even though many other amps had thrown the towel in way before this one had cracked a sweat)

 

edit::when they shut down it’s only briefly for a second, then they just get back up and carry on. Just a sign to wind back the volume control a wee bit.

 

edit 2: the HD2 will happily chug along at 500/4ohms

and the

the HD7 at 350/4ohm

 

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