New room new system!

Ah the excitement. We are converting our large balcony to a lounge/music/tv room. So this of course means a new hi-fi system. Some options below, on which I would appreciate feedback. Please note there is limited choice where I am, but what I’ve listed below is available and as I’m in Thailand, the prices are a bit higher than UK.

Room will be about 40-50SQM and quite long (4-5m x 10m) but listening area will be 3-4m from the speakers. I’m looking for something that sounds great at low, mid and high volumes. All music genres will be played (but not much classical). Only source will be streaming from Tidal. Budget is GBP10,000 and I don’t intend to upgrade in future.

Amp/source set up options:

  1. NAC202 + NAP200 + Streamer/DAC to be decided but possibly an ND5 XS2 (or Bluesound Node 2i if I decide to save some cash). The reason for this option is that I could buy the 202 and 200 second hand for GBP1500. Good deal but 10 years old so no DR. ND5 XS2 is GBP2,900 and Bluesound Node is GBP500. Note I can’t find a higher spec Naim streamer here.

  2. Nova. Naim/Focal here offer the Nova with the Kanta 2 at GBP10,000. Alone Nova would be GBP4,500.

  3. SN3 + Bluesound Node at GBP4,400 or + ND5 XS2 at GBP6,900.

  4. NAD C326BEE (Integrated 50W) + something. I have this lurking about somewhere so zero cost. It is about 10 years old. Not sure even adding a new Naim streamer would get this thing going.

Speaker options:

  1. ProAc Response D-20R (GBP4,900)
  2. ProAc Response D-30R (ex demo) (GBP5,600)
  3. Focal Aria 948 (GBP3,500)
  4. Focal Kanta 2 (GBP8,000)
  5. Dynaudio Evoke 50 (GBP4,400)
  6. B&W 703 S2 (GBP3,800)
  7. B&W 702 S2 (GBP4,800)
  8. KEF R900 (GBP2,000)
  9. Klipsch Cornwall IV (GBP5,000)

My current system is Atom + Focal Aria 906 and that will be staying put in the open plan kitchen/diner. I love the Focal sound but not sure if it will be suited to all of the above amp set ups. I should be able to listen to all the above, but not at home sadly.

Thanks in advance.

Second-hand/ex-demo NAC282, NAP200 + Bluesound Node 2i and add new or ex-demo speakers would be my advice. Pretty sure all of the above would be within £10k.

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If you like the Focal sound, the Nova/Kanta is great value. I’d avoid a ten year old 202/200 even if it’s cheap. The SN3/ND5XS2 will be a good step up over the Nova and I certainly wouldn’t front the SN3 with a Node. Remember that if you have two Naim streamers you can use multiroom, which is really useful. I can imagine the ND5XS2 and SN3 with ProAc D30 would be excellent but it takes you over budget.

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This is a bit ‘off the wall’ but if you really intend to stick with TIDAL only for streaming then a second hand 272 which you should be able to source for well less than £2k in good condition and ATC SCM40A active speakers which are about £6.5k new is well within budget.

To my ears this would out perform the other options you describe.

The downside is that you have not got the new streaming platform but when Naim introduce the (in my view inevitable) 272 replacement you could upgrade to that without a significant loss since 272 values already reflect a potential replacement.

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These speakers are all quite different in terms of sound signature. Perhaps it would help to determine first what kind of music you listen to most, and how you prefer to listen to music.

The Focal Kanta and Klipsch Cornwall for instance are really on two different ends of the spectrum. The Focals focus more on precision and transparency (cerebral), the Klipsch more on sound stage and dynamics (visceral). Those are different goals that may or may not suit your tastes.

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i would go Nova+ProAcd30r

(my two cents. / congrats)

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Especially with the speakers I would say you really need to audition before you buy.

And also think about what you want regarding box count etc. The advantage of one box like the Nova is that you have one app/remote to control everything. From source to preamp etc. The advantage of separate boxes is of course the upgrade path (can be both a blessing and a curse).
Pure bang for buck, from what I’ve read the Node 2i is probably your best option.

Also perhaps consider (a future) multiroom, BluOS and Naim give you different options.

FWIW I’m very happy with the B&W 702s2 at the end of a Star, so would imagine they work equally well on the end of a Nova.

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Not clear if you intend it anyway, but secondhand for speakers also maximises buying power.

Without knowing your preference for speaker sound it is hard to recommend speakers as of all components they impart the biggest contribution to the character of the sound and peoples expectations and preferences differ. For this reason, whilst people can suggest, if humanly possible you really have to hear speakers before buying , more so than any other part of a system.

Personally I would never be happy with a speaker having limited bass or being highly coloured, but others appear to. I like the way transmission line speakers reproduce bass, and many are capable of going low. I would therefore recommend auditioning PMC, the higher the model in each range the better the bass. (PMC MB2 is the best sounding speaker I have heard.) Kerr Acoustics or Castle are other current transmission line manufacturers, though I haven’t heard any of theirs so no idea what they are like other than the opinion of reviewers.

If I was looking for a new system I’d want to audition active ATCs, (SCM40A upwards, on paper picking the 150.). Active speakers fed direct by a source including Dave DAC, or TT2 at half the price, would mean no preamp needed if no analogue source, making for a very simple system. It would be interesting to hear how that compares with a power amp feeding, say, PMCs at the same total cost.

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From your starting point, 82 or 282, 200, bluenode 2i plus qutest , then speakers of choice after a listening demo.

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Thanks. I do like the Focal sound so I think it is between the nova + Kanta or the SN3 + ND5XS + Aria 948.
Or
Up the budget…

Interesting, I hadn’t considered active speakers. Will see if the ATCs are available here.

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I like the cerebral v visceral comparison! Yes. I have focals now so am inclined towards those but would not rule out having a different sound in another system.

FWIW: I would go with the SN3 > ND5 XS2 > ProAc D 30R speaker combo. Total package at prices listed is 12,500. Above your budget but it would be a great sounding system. I do believe you have some room to negotiate price down somewhat.

My recommendation is based on my experience owning a NDX 2 > SN2 > ProAC D30R system. I did add a HiCap DR and XPS DR power supplies along the way.

I would also recommend that you consider the ProAC D2R as an option or the ProAC D20R that you mentioned above. A number of members enjoy the Naim/ProAC combination.

Good luck with your decision and enjoy the journey along the way…

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I have the 936s and they are excellent. Plenty of power! Reckon 948s will be a good punt.

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Hi James,

What a great place to start …you can design the room!

What considerations have you given to:

  • Building materials;
  • Room dimensions;
  • Power; and
  • Networking?

Difficult to pick a system without proper demo. Will the dealers allow you to borrow them if they see you are serious?

I have heard Focal & ProAc doing great things with Naim: olive; CB; & Classic. I would love to hear the KEF and the Kipsch IV, which I have heard praised many times. Almost got to have a good listen to them and then Covid struck. Still on my ToDo list, although they would never work in my room.

M

P.S. If you fancy starting a thread on the Home Theatre section be interested in what your thoughts are on the AV front.

You could also add room shape - however I suspect the balcony staring point defines much of that.

Excellent points. Here is the design - hifi at bottom with tv at top. Building materials-wise I do want to soundproof the room so I can take the volume up to enjoyable levels. There are currently separate power points on the balcony so adapting and moving these should be fairly easy. Networking, the room next door has a wifi router so the signal is good, but I may look into getting an ethernet connection.

Hi James,

I would be inclined to send your design to an acoustic company and get their view. They can also advise you on building materials and acoustic treatments, if needed; I can see what I think are issues but an expert opinion is far more worthwhile than a bunch of well meaning amateurs.

If I was in your position I would be thinking in terms of a separate ring for the HiFi electrics, BUT put some standard sockets in the same locale so that you are not forced to plug non-HiFi items into the HiFi supply. You will find lots of advise wrt cable size, fuse boxes, RCD & RCBOs etc here and elsewhere …as well as sensible people advising you to use a qualified electrician.

I would be thinking of running fibre-optic network to your AV and HiFi positions, and anywhere else you think you may need in the future.

WRT AV:
I would be inclined to at least lay the wire for rears & effects speakers, even if you are not thinking of using these now. Simple to lay in new build and save you pain later if you change your mind.

You mentioned a TV, have you looked at short throw projectors?

Easy to spend other people’s money!!

Just some thoughts that I am sure you have already had. Looking forward to reading how your project progresses, love to see some photos now and through the process.

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Good point on the fibre optic, will get it connected even if it’s not used straight away. Yes all electrical work will be done by top professionals. Will seek some help from Naim dealer here on the room, they seem pretty good. I had second thoughts about putting the window there, so close to the speakers, but with that aspect we get a belter of a sunset over the pink smog of Bangkok. Now, just to find a reliable builder…

If you visit GIK Acoustics they have a free planner.

I have never used their services but others have said good things about them.

M

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