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Cambridge AXA35 or AXR85 vs Emotiva TA-100 vs Marantz slim for Forte II


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As follow up, I ended up with a used Cambridge CXA60.  Noticeable improvement in sound quality over the Sherwood RX-4105.  Maybe I'd have noticed the same improvement with an AXR85 or something else slightly cheaper, but I'm very happy.  I had been limiting what the Fortes could do.

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Yes, it is great.  Clear upgrade in sound fullness from the Sherwood.  Is it possible I could have found the same sound improvement from something slightly cheaper?  Maybe.  I'll never know. 

 

I had wondered if I'd be able to tell the difference, or if it'd be an "emperor's new clothes" moment when I couldn't tell any difference.  However, what I definitely know is the moment I used my Forte IIs for the first time (with the Sherwood amp), I was underwhelmed with the fullness of sound.  And the moment I used the Cambridge for the first time, I thought, now this is what these are supposed to sound like.  The intro to the Beatles' "Come Together" may be the best demonstration of this.  It was thin before the Cambridge, and it felt like a gimmicky, clicky intro.  With the Cambridge, I feel like the intro is worth having in the song.

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  • 7 months later...

I know this thread is almost a year old, but I can comment on some similar setups:

 

I have Klipsch Quartets paired with the following amps. Note, the sound descriptions are based on running direct with no eq:

 

Emotiva TA-1: Lacks mid/low end clarity, highs sound good

Topping EX5/Cambridge Audio AXA35: flat across the board, and one of my favorite pairings with the quartets for any genre of music.

Topping EX5/SMSL DA-9: Most accurate across the board, specifically in the lower frequency range. Not as fun as the AXA35, but for serious technical listening, this is my choice

Topping EX5/Reisong A12 12watt tube amp: most dynamic upper mid range, not the most accurate low end, but a good pairing.

 

In summary, Emotiva TA-1 is my least favorite integrated amp on the list above, and I'd assume the TA-100 sounds similar, but YMMV depending on what speakers your pair it with. I've also paired the setups above with Klipsch SF-1 and SF-3 speakers. The SF-3's have more low end out of the box, but being 2-way speakers, they don't have the mid/high end clarity. I'm not an audio engineer or audiophile by any means, but I've got 3 decades of producing, playing, and listening to music on mid-high end setups. Hope this helps!

 

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