Over the last few months, we have been playing with a number of systems and combinations and we have identified a few that we feel represent great bang for the buck.
If you are in the market for a new system, we’d highly recommend that you pop on down and have an audition.
If you had about $2,000 to spend, you really owe it to yourself to listen to this configuration:
- PS Audio Sprout
- DALI Zensor 1 or B&W 686 S2
- DALI White Wave Speaker Cables
We keep going back to the PS Audio Sprout because it is always a joy to listen to. It’s the little amp that could. It keeps going and going - never limited by its physical size. Whether you are using the DALI Zensor 1s or the B&W 686 S2s, the Sprout always manages to keep a musical rhythm and pace that’s enticing and draws you into the music.
We will supply you with a pair of DALI White Wave speaker cables to help get you started. It’s a well built multi-strand oxygen free copper cable from Germany and it really complements the system here with a rich and detailed sound.
At this price point, we have skipped over a source and concentrated the budget on the better quality speakers and amplifier. This is also partly because the Sprout is incredibly versatile. It can play music over Bluetooth - so your own phone can be a source of music, whether it is from music stored on the phone, or streamed music from the internet. You can also use your notebook or computer with a USB connection to supply the music. And if you have an old DVD player, it can work as a digital transport for your CDs- just use a good coaxial digital cable to connect the digital output from the DVD player to the Sprout.
You can place the speakers on a TV console and together with the diminutively sized Sprout, they should look unobtrusive.
If you want to optimise the sound from this system, my recommendation would be to get two small timber plinths and place them under the speakers, with a thin anti-slip rubber mat to separate the speakers from the TV console. Use just a tiny pinch of Blutac to secure the bottom of the speakers to the timber plinths.
At this price point, we can move beyond the entry level range of speakers. This means getting to the DALI Opticon and B&W CM series - which offer the improved drivers and better quality crossover and cabinets.
- Rotel RA-12
- Rotel RCD-12
- B&W CM1 S2 or DALI Opticon 1
Whether you choose the B&W CM1 S2 or DALI Opticon 1, you can’t lose. Both speakers are highly regarded and well reviewed - but are voiced differently. Our own listening suggests the DALIs sound great with jazz and classical, while the B&W tend to excel with rock and pop. As before, we always recommend listening to them with your own favourite selection of music before deciding.
Rotel amplifiers and CD players focus on the best quality components like toroidal transformers, capacitors and resistors instead of frills. So you know you are always going to get quality sound reproduction. They deliver clean, effortless and low-distortion power. The RA-12 amplifier delivers 60W of power - but don’t be fooled by numbers from other brands. Rotel consistently rates their products conservatively and the RA-12 drives the CM1 S2 and Opticon 1 speakers effortlessly.
As before, these speakers will play beautifully on your TV console if you do not have space for dedicated stands. The timber plinths, anti slip rubber mats and BluTac tweak as in the $2,000 system allows you to get better isolation from the TV cabinet.
Doubling the budget from our last system allows us to step up from the Rotel 12 series to the flagship 15 series, which offer much higher power than the 12 series.
For this budget, we decided to have set up two different systems.
- Rotel RA-1570
- Rotel RCD-1570
- B&W CM6 S2 or DALI Opticon 6
The first system is more conventional - packing the Rotel 15 series CD player and integrated amplifier. The uprated power to 120W per channel means the Rotel will have no trouble driving the B&W CM6 S2 or DALI Opticon 6 speakers.
- Rotel RB-1582 Mk II
- Oppo HA-1
- B&W CM6 S2 or DALI Opticon 6
The second system switches to a pre- and power- amplifier combination. We still use a 15 series Rotel power amplifier which now delivers 200W per channel and use an Oppo HA-1 to handle DAC and pre-amplifier functions.
The Oppo HA-1 is an incredible piece of kit. It uses the well respected Sabre 32 9018 DACs - found in DACs that cost over $20,000 - which handle high resolution 24 bit/192 kHz audio as well as DSD. And it also packs an impressive Class A headphone amplifier so you can use your system with a good set of headphones as well.
Whatever your budget is, I am sure we can tailor a system that is just right for you. And if you need advice on how to optimise your existing system, feel free to pop down our store and ask. We are always happy to help.
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