New Member Saying Hello and Needing Some Advice

Nuprin

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
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#1
Hi everyone,

Have been a lurker on the forums here but first time posting as I've finally been able to put a modest audio/video system together in the last year after a long hiatus. The system is set up for HT for the kids and family, but I want to improve the 2 channel listening. The room is about 14" Deep x 15.5" wide but open on the front left side and rear back side, sitting in an equilateral triangle of about 10 feet. The Role Audio Enterprise have been very good but comes up short in the upper frequencies and overall transparency.

Many years ago, while way out of my budget range, I was pretty mesmerized by the Wilson Watt/Puppy 7's at the local Hi-Fi shop. They seemed leagues ahead of the B&W, Ariel Acoustics, Vandersteens that I heard in comparison and especially paired with Audio Research gear - in terms of transparency and resolution, but could get a little fatiguing in the highs.

After some research, I've been reading a lot of positive reviews on the Evolution Acoustics Micro Ones because they are not only affordable but also fits in rather small room. I haven't heard these but it seems some of the members here have owned Wilson's and think rather highly of these speakers. I contacted Johnathan - he happened to have a deal on a pair from a previous customer who decided not to use them and pulled the trigger without having hearing them first. They are on the way now along with a matching center. Hopefully the Seaton SubMersive HP+ will integrate well with the Micro Ones. If anyone has suggestions for the subwoofer crossover point would be welcomed.

The Cambridge Audio 851N has been a game changer regarding the ability to easily select and switch to whichever artist I'm in the mood for. I really, really like the digital streaming format as it is very convenient for me in the current space to access music from my iPhone or iPad. So, with this in mind, my question is - Would it be worth investing in a pre-amp(under $3k used?), solid state or tube, that has a HT passthrough as well as a better phono stage than the entry level Rotel phono unit? My speaker cables are probably also in need of an upgrade - entry level Transparent Music Wave 100s. Interconnects are balanced cables from Cinema 11a to Cinema 5 amp. I read somewhere Johnathan recommend Aural Fidelity Cables as an affordable alternative to Acoustic Evolution cables, but there's not much info on the web about them or reviews on how they compare against similar priced cables in the $1k to $2k range, otherwise my local dealer carries Transparent and Audioquest. Would love for anyone who's heard those cables to chime in. With a limited budget, I could use some recommendations on getting the best out of those speakers.

Noteworthy mention: I live about 15 minutes away from Cary Audio Designs so something in their line could be easily serviced.

Thanks,

Mike
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
7,173
1,480
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Beverly Hills, CA
#2
Welcome to WBF, Mike!

I am glad Jonathan was able to help you get EA speakers!

(Unfortunately, I have no insight or experience on your specific questions.)
 

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
1,060
342
155
Melbourne, Australia
#3
Mike, Firstly welcome to the forum & I hope you enjoy your time here!

Firstly re: the Evolution Acoustics Micro Ones. I briefly owned a pair after auditioning them in my Dealer's showroom. Yes, they are the most transparent of speakers, disappear in the room & have surprisingly punchy bass for their size. But a deal breaker for me was the pedestrian build quality of the wrought iron bases for the included stands. Mine arrived with numerous scratches and dings. I mean they looked like second hand pieces of outdoor furniture, so my Dealer sent them back to the factory for replacement. And you guessed it...the replacement bases were also scratched and dinged. My Dealer told me that's just how they come out of the factory, so I gave up and returned the speakers. Really you expect a lot more from a prestigious brand like EA. But hopefully they've since resolved their quality control issues and you have a better experience. FWIW, If you like fast sounding monitors, the Quad Z1's are good value if you couldn't afford something like Magico A1's.

In terms of system development, I advocate building around your speakers. Given the EA Micro Ones which are very fast/transparent, they will certainly benefit from a 'fast' amp which is also on the warm side. From your comments, I assume you will be running a basic 5.1 setup with AV separates? Moving to a better AV Pre-pro is one option. My friend runs dual audiophile power amps to drive his fronts & rears, along with a Rowland class D amp to drive his cc. He recently upgraded to a Marantz AV8805 pre-pro & has been singing it's praises. He said it works like a dream & has better/more realistic bass compared to his previous pre-pro. So i'd probably start there, then maybe look around for a better phono stage when funds permit.
 
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Nuprin

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
11
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#4
Ron, thanks and appreciate the welcome!


Bodhi,

That is disappointing to hear about your experience with the stands. Hopefully mine will be fine, although if it was slightly scratched or dinged, that would not take away anything from the sound and I have kids around so I don't expect things to stay in perfect condition for the time being.

Regarding the pre/pro, I actually auditioned the Marantz along with a few others (on the current Role Audio Enterprise) and found the older Cary Audio Cinema 11a to sound better for me in the 2 channel format and better than the dac/preamp portion of the Azure 851N streamer. The room isn't set up to take advantage of Dolby Atmos and it can just do a basic 5 channel system as it is now. I'm just wondering if I can make significant improvements by going beyond the 11a with a better two channel preamp that includes a HT bypass - a good phono stage would be a bonus. I don't believe going down the path of a better pre/pro in itself is the best path for me for cost/performance regarding music.

Until I can build a dedicated 2 channel system, I'm pretty happy with the Cinema 5 amp performance, given that I would probably have to spend double to make significant gains. A Dartzeel integrated would be ideal, as many have said they match very well, but out of my budget for now. The Vinyl set-up is barely ok and definitely doesn't sound better than the digital setup right now but I plan to address that down the road. In my mind the goal of the Vinyl setup is to sound better than the digital for my select favorite audiophile recordings.
 

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
1,060
342
155
Melbourne, Australia
#5
Nuprin, Yes fingers crossed your stands arrive in better nic than the examples I received..

There is some nice gear at the high end of HT, but not much in the middle if you're chasing audiophile sound. Personally I'm content to run a 2-channel HT setup with a now old-school Bluray player running into my Vitus integrated via rca's. Though I plan to upgrade to a Pioneer UDP-LX800 bluray at some stage so I can run xlr cables which of course give you a 6db increase in gain (vs unbalanced cables). Whilst my Magico S5 Mk2's provide rock solid bass, so I don't feel the need for subs.

As a 'what if' exercise, I tried virtually building a 5.1 setup for combined 2CH/HT use & in the end it did my head in. Though I was also trying to integrate a JL Audio CR-1 x-over. Cost no object, I'd run separate dedicated 2CH and HT rooms optimized for each discipline. On a budget...heck even at my level of gear, I'd choose quality over quantity and stick to a high end 2CH setup, or 2CH + active sub(s). My 2c.
 
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May 11, 2019
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#6
Nuprin...As a 'what if' exercise, I tried virtually building a 5.1 setup for combined 2CH/HT use & in the end it did my head in. Though I was also trying to integrate a JL Audio CR-1 x-over. Cost no object, I'd run separate dedicated 2CH and HT rooms optimized for each discipline. On a budget...heck even at my level of gear, I'd choose quality over quantity and stick to a high end 2CH setup, or 2CH + active sub(s). My 2c.
Hah! I'm in the midst of setting up exactly that @Bodhi. JL Audio CR-1 and all. And yes, its braking my brain too- LOL!
 

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
1,060
342
155
Melbourne, Australia
#7
Hah! I'm in the midst of setting up exactly that @Bodhi. JL Audio CR-1 and all. And yes, its braking my brain too- LOL!
The JL CR-1 works a treat with their subs. It just creates a Syntax error when you then try to incorporate 2CH listening into your 5.1/2 setup o_O
 

Nuprin

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
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#8
On a budget...heck even at my level of gear, I'd choose quality over quantity and stick to a high end 2CH setup, or 2CH + active sub(s). My 2c.
For now, it has to be both a 5.1 and a 2 channel system. Movies and TV for the rest of the family and I try to get my time in for music. Somewhere down the road, if we get to build a house, the basement will have dedicated rooms for each.

Even with my current set up limitations, I'm hoping to hear a big improvement over the Role Audio Enterprise with the Micro Ones. As much as I love Wilson's, something like a pair of used Watt/Puppy 7's or 8's with their Watch Center won't fit in my space. My cables will probably need some upgrades, as I'm using some inexpensive Mogami XLR between Digital Source/Preamp/Amp and entry level Transparent speaker wire.
 

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
1,060
342
155
Melbourne, Australia
#9
For now, it has to be both a 5.1 and a 2 channel system. Movies and TV for the rest of the family and I try to get my time in for music. Somewhere down the road, if we get to build a house, the basement will have dedicated rooms for each.

Even with my current set up limitations, I'm hoping to hear a big improvement over the Role Audio Enterprise with the Micro Ones. As much as I love Wilson's, something like a pair of used Watt/Puppy 7's or 8's with their Watch Center won't fit in my space. My cables will probably need some upgrades, as I'm using some inexpensive Mogami XLR between Digital Source/Preamp/Amp and entry level Transparent speaker wire.
That's fair enough. I can't help you with speaker cable suggestions at your price point, but here are my tips for a good value integrated amp with HT bypass & speakers...
My friend bought an Audia Flight FLS-3 integrated which he used as a fill in amp to drive his Marten Coltrane 3's. We both couldn't believe how good the sound was considering it's size and price point (approx $3.5kUS). And it has surpisingly good power/control considering the modest specs. Great bang for the buck!
And i'm loving Audio Solutions speakers from Lithuania. They are well built and offer smooth, natural, musical sound which punches well above their price point. The Figaro B on Sound Anchors stands, or floorstanding Figaro S would be my bang for the buck picks in a small room. Btw, Diego Estan offers advice re: integrating a sub with the Figaro B's in this review for Soundstagehifi.
 
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Nuprin

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
11
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#10
Appreciate the suggestions Bohdi. Since it's looking like it'll be 5k before I can make a significant difference in the preamp, maybe I'll just keep the system and save up for a Dartzeel LHC-208 to replace the streamer/preamp, run the HT bypass and worry about the phono stage after.
 
Likes: Bodhi

Bodhi

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2014
1,060
342
155
Melbourne, Australia
#11
Appreciate the suggestions Bohdi. Since it's looking like it'll be 5k before I can make a significant difference in the preamp, maybe I'll just keep the system and save up for a Dartzeel LHC-208 to replace the streamer/preamp, run the HT bypass and worry about the phono stage after.
Dartz are very nice gear. The CHT-8550 is a sweet sounding integrated, so the LHC-208 should have that essential dna.
 

Nuprin

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
11
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#12
Dartz are very nice gear. The CHT-8550 is a sweet sounding integrated, so the LHC-208 should have that essential dna.
I don't get to travel much but I might be in Portland in April for a trade show. Since I'm flying across the country, I need to go hear some Dartzeel in Portland or maybe rent a car, drive 2.5 hours to Bellevue (since there's a vendor I could visit) knock on Mike Lavigne's door, introduce myself as a total stranger and ask to listen to his Dartzeels and MM7s to hear what a "reference system" is supposed to sound like in a well design room in order to know which direction to go in improving my system.

I'm kidding of course. Well, kinda half-kidding lol. Five to Seven Year goal is to build a house/room with a proper acoustically designed room for two channel listening.
 
Likes: Bodhi

Nuprin

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
11
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#13
Hah! I'm in the midst of setting up exactly that @Bodhi. JL Audio CR-1 and all. And yes, its braking my brain too- LOL!
MTB,

Just noticed you have 4 Seaton Submersives HPs. Can't imagine how good those would sound with an eq in your HT room!

Curious, how big is that room btw and how many does your theater seat?

I'm sure if I get to have a dedicated audio room, the rest of the family is going to want a proper Home Theater room. The idea in my head was to run 2 HPs and 2 F18's or just 4 F18's and consider his Catalyst active speakers. However, lately I have not heard much from Mark on the forums and hope he's still planning to be around for a while as I'm a fan of his products. I compared the JL subs and B&W subs from a local dealer and found the Seatons hitting much deeper for the same price point.
 
May 11, 2019
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#14
...Curious, how big is that room btw and how many does your theater seat?
It is a modest size room- 20'Lx14'Wx11'H @Nuprin. The room began as a purpose-built dedicated two channel space but back when my Missus and I began seriously futzing about with HT a decade ago, it was the only room in our loft with 100% light control. Even when the "stereo" room was repurposed as a 5.1 music and theater space, the emphasis has always been on sound quality so just one row of 3 seats and the L, R, and C channels are out into the room about 5 feet. With the latest gear line-up listed in my signature, I'm in the midst of a huge system-wide re-vamp that will hopefully permit greater 2-channel enjoyment again. Vinyl playback just ain't the same when channeled through a HT processor, even if its a good one.

As far as the Seaton stuff goes, great gear of which I'm a huge fan... However as you appear to have noted, Mark seems much less committed to the excellent communication and after-sales service which his long-term customers were once accustomed to. As a result I'm not the fanboy I once was. Last Spring I experienced this myself. Fortunately a Submersive amp failure which Mark just wasn't following up on proved easily remedied by reaching out to the OEM amp manufacturer directly. My warranty had expired so no big whup. However there appear to be several other Seaton customers in the past year+ with in-warranty claims which Mark has either not resolved as of yet or taken ages to do so.
 

Nuprin

New Member
Jan 9, 2020
11
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#15
Dang. Plan was to have 4 Seatons for HT down the road. Maybe Danley? They are about 5 hours away from me.

Guess the Vinyl will have to wait unless I can find something that can make a big difference in 2 channel and bypass HT without costing an arm and a leg.
 

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