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Thread: Upgrade Fever

  1. #1
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    Upgrade Fever

    I'm a relative newbie here on audioreview, and this will be a strange post, as I'm actually quite happy with my setup, but I've been feeling the desire to mess around with my gear, so here goes...

    I currently own (and love) some Kef XQ1 speakers. I actually love the soundstage and sound of these speakers. With the Krell amp I don't fell myself missing bass, and vocals are amazing. Their size is perfect for the WAF.

    So being the sick audiophile that I am, I'm wondering about upgrading these...
    Browsing the boards has made me curious about the following speakers (from expensive to just plain ridiculous)

    Usher Audio "Tiny Dancer" BE-718
    Seems to be a forum darling...very excited to audition these...

    Harbeth Speakers - HL-Compact 7ES-3
    Wow- great reviews but pretty darn expensive!

    B&W 805 Diamond - I've owned B&W speakers in the past, the DM-640's and DM-580's, but found the sound of the Meridian A-500 ultimately a bit warmer and more enjoyable... so I'm wondering about newer B&W speakers and their sound quality. Possibly too large as well...

    I've also heard several Wilson WATT Puppies at a local store and have really been impressed by the sound of these (and scared %#@&less by the price) and wondered if anyone has heard their bookshelf speakers, the Duette? The price is staggering but I figure they must be available on the used market at significant discount...

    Any opinions on any of these? Should I leave well enough alone if I have good stereo synergy at the moment?

    Thanks all!

    -Phil

    Living Room System

    Oppo BDP-83SE
    Apple TV
    Musical Fidelity VDAC
    Krell KAV-400xi
    Kef XQ1
    Cables from Blue Jeans Cable


    Bedroom System
    Denon D-M50S Mini System
    Mission MS50 Speakers

  2. #2
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    Hi Phil, I don't know if you've been following my thread but I thought I'd chime in here.

    I just did a "shoot-out" between 4-5 popular speakers and for me, in terms of value and sound, it's the Fritz Carbon 7 monitors that came out on top.

    I'm sure if you're interested, he can arrange a demo pair of the Carbon 7's to be sent to your home. They will certainly blow your KEF's away and you won't need to blow $2500+ for those speakers you listed. The Carbon 7's only go for $1700, and they are tremendous giant killers as I preferred them over some $2500+ speakers such as the Totem Forest, ProAc Response 1.5 and B&W Nautilus 805.

    Fritz is a very friendly person to speak with and loves to talk speakers, no high pressure sales pitch or anything even close. He's a one-man operation and has been doing this since 1973. His overhead costs are low/non-existant which explains how his products represent such excellent value compared to big name manufacturers.

    Those are some great choices you have listed, but in my opinion (and experience) quite expensive for the performance you get. If you feel the interest, please do yourself a favor and give Fritz a call, there's really nothing to lose here. His contact info is listed at the bottom of www.fritzspeakers.com

    I also want to add that I have no affiliation or relationship to Fritz, I'm just a new customer who wants to share his excitement with others.
    Last edited by koven; 02-03-2010 at 05:25 PM.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    I have done some limited listening to the Usher BE-718 when I was auditioning my X719's. I think the dealer just wanted me to hear them in case I got the urge to upgrade in the future. They easily bested anything else I had heard in his bookshelf room. Just wasn't in the budget at the time. My other audio shop is a Wilson dealer and I spent about an hour with the Duette's when they arrived in the shop. They are a first class speaker with the price tag to match. Soundstage depth was incredible. I really felt like I was sitting in front of a Symphony orchestra. With the string section in the front and the woodwinds farther back then the brass and the percussion. Just amazing.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  4. #4
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Keep hangin around the forums and you'll have your whole set up flipped in no time. It's almost impossible to focus when you're constantly seeing awesome gear. You sound like you have a great set up. No forums for a week. At the end of the week, see how you feel...

  5. #5
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    When my illness reached the point of diminishing returns I sold all my expensive complicated gear and entered the world of a minimalism where less IMHO sounds better.

    I now thrive on 2.5 watt SET flea amps and full range single drivers. With my current malady even the box is optional.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    I just got back from my local stereo shop. My SIL wanted me to order a pair of Paradigm Atoms for her husband's birthday. Started getting caught up with what's new from my salesguy and the wife looks at us and says " Are you guys speaking English". Stereo language can be confussing to someone outside the hobby. Anyway, my salesguy tells me that they just picked up two new lines of speakers. They have Vienna Acoustics in the store now and they have Vandersteens coming in soon. It gives you a couple more things to listen to when I have some free time and stop in for a visit. Does anybody here have Vienna's or Vandersteen's?
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  7. #7
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Best Buy Magnolia carries Vienna's but there's a local high end hi fi shop here that carries the top of the line vienna's and they sound great. Even the stuff BB Magnolia carries is excellent

    http://www.viennaacoustics.at/
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Best Buy Magnolia carries Vienna's but there's a local high end hi fi shop here that carries the top of the line vienna's and they sound great. Even the stuff BB Magnolia carries is excellent

    http://www.viennaacoustics.at/
    I've heard them in BB, but you know what their sound room is like. Not the best place for an audition. At my regular shop my salesguy had the Mozart Grand's set up next to the Paradigm Studio 60's and a pair of Sonus Faber's that I didn't catch the model on. He said he preferred the Studio 60's, but he likes his music a little hotter than I do. I want to hear the Haydn Grands myself, but they haven't arrived at the store yet. Maybe I can get a home trial some weekend and put them up against my Ushers.

    I've never heard or seen Vandersteens. But I've heard they have a love em or hate em relationship.
    Last edited by Jack in Wilmington; 02-08-2010 at 05:49 PM.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by koven
    Hi Phil, I don't know if you've been following my thread but I thought I'd chime in here.

    I just did a "shoot-out" between 4-5 popular speakers and for me, in terms of value and sound, it's the Fritz Carbon 7 monitors that came out on top.

    I'm sure if you're interested, he can arrange a demo pair of the Carbon 7's to be sent to your home. They will certainly blow your KEF's away and you won't need to blow $2500+ for those speakers you listed. The Carbon 7's only go for $1700, and they are tremendous giant killers as I preferred them over some $2500+ speakers such as the Totem Forest, ProAc Response 1.5 and B&W Nautilus 805.

    Fritz is a very friendly person to speak with and loves to talk speakers, no high pressure sales pitch or anything even close. He's a one-man operation and has been doing this since 1973. His overhead costs are low/non-existant which explains how his products represent such excellent value compared to big name manufacturers.

    Those are some great choices you have listed, but in my opinion (and experience) quite expensive for the performance you get. If you feel the interest, please do yourself a favor and give Fritz a call, there's really nothing to lose here. His contact info is listed at the bottom of www.fritzspeakers.com

    I also want to add that I have no affiliation or relationship to Fritz, I'm just a new customer who wants to share his excitement with others.
    Hey Koven,

    Thanks so much for the suggestion... Fritz appears to be a very attractive option which I'll have to investigate! I certainly don't mind NOT spending a ton of money on speakers lol.

    Living Room System

    Oppo BDP-83SE
    Apple TV
    Musical Fidelity VDAC
    Krell KAV-400xi
    Kef XQ1
    Cables from Blue Jeans Cable


    Bedroom System
    Denon D-M50S Mini System
    Mission MS50 Speakers

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack in Wilmington
    I have done some limited listening to the Usher BE-718 when I was auditioning my X719's. I think the dealer just wanted me to hear them in case I got the urge to upgrade in the future. They easily bested anything else I had heard in his bookshelf room. Just wasn't in the budget at the time. My other audio shop is a Wilson dealer and I spent about an hour with the Duette's when they arrived in the shop. They are a first class speaker with the price tag to match. Soundstage depth was incredible. I really felt like I was sitting in front of a Symphony orchestra. With the string section in the front and the woodwinds farther back then the brass and the percussion. Just amazing.
    Thanks for the info Jack. I've yet to audition either so it's nice to get some direct experience. I'm a little bummed you didn't say that the Wilsons sounded like $#@! though! ;-)

    Living Room System

    Oppo BDP-83SE
    Apple TV
    Musical Fidelity VDAC
    Krell KAV-400xi
    Kef XQ1
    Cables from Blue Jeans Cable


    Bedroom System
    Denon D-M50S Mini System
    Mission MS50 Speakers

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Keep hangin around the forums and you'll have your whole set up flipped in no time. It's almost impossible to focus when you're constantly seeing awesome gear. You sound like you have a great set up. No forums for a week. At the end of the week, see how you feel...
    Thanks poppachubby! I definitely appreciate your input and reading your many posts on this forum. I do have a good setup and need to keep reminding myself that taste is subjective and there will always be "you've gotta buy these" reviews of new gear month after month and year after year.

    I think I'm coming to the conclusion that I perhaps just want to set myself up a 2nd rig just so I can screw around. I'm one of those people who just enjoy swapping out gear and hearing how things sound, and with our living room setup being our active and only setup other than a mini Denon unit with Mission speakers in the bedroom, I think I need an experimental rig somewhere in the house to try out gear and switch things around. My frustration may not lie in the gear itself but the ability to mess around with various bits of gear and play!

    Living Room System

    Oppo BDP-83SE
    Apple TV
    Musical Fidelity VDAC
    Krell KAV-400xi
    Kef XQ1
    Cables from Blue Jeans Cable


    Bedroom System
    Denon D-M50S Mini System
    Mission MS50 Speakers

  12. #12
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philhh
    My frustration may not lie in the gear itself but the ability to mess around with various bits of gear and play!
    I'm so done with messing around...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist
    When my illness reached the point of diminishing returns I sold all my expensive complicated gear and entered the world of a minimalism where less IMHO sounds better.

    I now thrive on 2.5 watt SET flea amps and full range single drivers. With my current malady even the box is optional.
    Hey Poultrygeist... in a sense I agree that less seems to be more. I've noticed an audible improvement going from my separate amp & preamp to this integrated setup, though it may be more a question of the quality of the gear than this change... not sure.

    I'm really not sure what a flea amp is... but I'm game to check it out!

    I made a horrible mistake a few decades ago of getting rid of my dad's Sansui receiver and KLH speakers he gave to me in favor of the hot brand of the day (Carver and B&W speakers) and I really don't think I did much in terms of improving the sound quality... just spent a lot of money.

    Living Room System

    Oppo BDP-83SE
    Apple TV
    Musical Fidelity VDAC
    Krell KAV-400xi
    Kef XQ1
    Cables from Blue Jeans Cable


    Bedroom System
    Denon D-M50S Mini System
    Mission MS50 Speakers

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philhh
    Thanks for the info Jack. I've yet to audition either so it's nice to get some direct experience. I'm a little bummed you didn't say that the Wilsons sounded like $#@! though! ;-)
    I couldn't honestly say that. But I have heard better for a lot less money. With the Wilson's it was that incredible depth of soundstage. I've never heard a speaker that was set up with 20ft behind the speaker to the nearest wall.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  15. #15
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    Flea amps include small amps with low power ratings i.e. T-amps and SET amps.

    SET stands for "singled ended triode" which is a type of tube amp that only produces a handful of watts but those few watts are magical. Some of the finest and most expensive tube amps are SET's but they require high efficiency speakers.

    As someone said, "if the first watt sucks why bother" - That quote speaks volumes about where the mainstream power race in audio is today.

    I sold my expensive Classe amp on ebay because it's first watt couldn't compete with the first watt of my inexpensive Chinese SET.

  16. #16
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist
    Flea amps include small amps with low power ratings i.e. T-amps and SET amps.

    SET stands for "singled ended triode" which is a type of tube amp that only produces a handful of watts but those few watts are magical. Some of the finest and most expensive tube amps are SET's but they require high efficiency speakers.

    As someone said, "if the first watt sucks why bother" - That quote speaks volumes about where the mainstream power race in audio is today.

    I sold my expensive Classe amp on ebay because it's first watt couldn't compete with the first watt of my inexpensive Chinese SET.
    Here, here...I'm being romanced by a 40 watt SET. The Golden Tube is proving to be the greatest audio score of my life...

  17. #17
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    poppachubby, with that big iron acquisition you need to start building the single driver folded horns you keep talking about. How bout the nice monkey coffin below? Buy this easy kit, build it while you're saving your shekels for the variety of full range drivers that will work with it. Your goldie deserves it.

    http://www.madisound.com/catalog/pro...oducts_id=1399

  18. #18
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Wow! Looks great, like a mini Frugal. I love it. I just may do that. I've been listening to the amp for a little over a week now. The speaker itch will hit soon enough. I'm still on honeymoon with the Sound Dynamics.

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