Magneplanars, a NAD, Rotel RCX 1500 receiver, vintage receivers and more


I have decided to purchase a pair of preowned Magnepan MG12s to replace my old cone infested speakers. However, as you probably know, the MG12's specs include a sensitivity of 86dB into an impedance of 4 Ohms; whereas my old cone jobbies were nothing if not efficient with a rating of 92dB into 8 Ohms; thus I also need new amplification (I’ve come across the 100 Watts RMS suggestion several times). So I'm considering preowned the NAD C725BEE stereo receiver and a preowned Rotel RCX1500 receiver, and would like to know your thoughts about them for my application.

The NAD sounds good and has enough power (I think), but how does the Rotel compare? I like the Rotel's FM internet streaming capability I use a good CD player for critical listening (only jazz and classical music, at reasonable loud levels).

On the other hand, going against the Rotel (assuming it sounds as good as the NAD) is that it has a built in CD player which I don’t need but which ups the purchase price. Do you know of any sub-$1,000 100W stereo receiver that tunes in internet FM and sounds good? Do I need to forget the one box (receiver) idea and go with separate tuner and amp, even though this also ups the price? Is there other kit that you would recommend (no tubes/valves please)? 

By the way, why are Yamaha stereo receivers never tested in hi-fi magazines (I've seen multichannel, AV ones tested)? Is it that their low price bracket keeps them out of the hi-fi category, even though the best ones have high power ratings? I really would appreciate any advice you could suggest.

To be frank, I have little experience with stereo receivers and few of those would really do justice to Magnepan MG12s. As stereo receivers are their budget cousins I suspect you are expecting too much here. Driving the Maggies with a separate amplifier allows you to optimise that side of the system and get the most from them. You will need a quality stereo hi-fi amplifier and I suggest you start out trying a Naim Nait 5i or a preowned LFD NCSE Mk1 or Mk2. It won’t go super loud but NAIM and LFD deliver current well and have a fulsome bass that suits Maggies. If you have a large room or listen very loud then you would need more power, from a Supernait or upward. Alternatively, think Simaudio Moon, but you may have to buy second-hand.

Whilst VHF/FM off-air offers good quality, via the internet you are faced with a compressed signal and JazzFM91 comes in at a low 48kbps, an iTunes player tells me in London. This is not good quality. It could be that I am served a low rate because of my London IP address and you get a higher quality stream locally, but it’s unlikely.

Your CBC Classical station comes in at a standard 128kbps and this is better, but hardly super-fi! VHF/FM off-air should sound considerably better, especially when taxing audio material like a full orchestra with violin sections is subject to internet compression, just to stuff it down telephone wires. VHF/FM then trounces internet radio, whose quality becomes quite gruesome

So I would suggest you take it easy, get one item at a time, possibly purchase second-hand from eBay, and build your system progressively. A Logitech Squeezebox will serve as an internet tuner and there are many options for a VHF/FM tuner of course. The MG12s are quality loudspeakers and deserve good partnering equipment. I hope this helps.

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