Audio-gd c-500 consultation
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dcivera

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Hi everybody,
 
I'm new posting on this site, so I apologize in advance for any clumsy behavior (and for my english also).
 
I have been reading all Audio-gd posts on this forum which have been VERY useful in acquiring some knowledge on this fantastic brand.
 
I was introduced to the DAC world (and digital audiophile world, being myself more analog than digital, but trying to bring all the great advantages of the digital world into an audiophile gear) with an NFB-3 unit, and still amazed with the GREAT improvement.
 
Here's is the thing:
 
since I'm pretty convinced -and have to declare- that I'm turning a serious fan of Audio-gd brand, I'm planing to change my integrated amp for a c-500 or c-501.
 
My planed gear for the near future is to buy a mac mini > Audio-gd DI? (might this unit improve considerably the gear?) > NFB-3 dac (already have) > Audio-gd c-500/501 (I now have a 150W NAD amp) > B&W 604 S3 (already have)
 
I mostly listen to good old rock'n roll, some blues, some jazz.
 
Do these Audio-gd amps match properly with my B&W speakers? Is there a big difference with NAD sound?
Will the digital interface recommended for my future gear?
 
Since I don't have the possibility to listen to any A-gd unit in my country, any advice before purchasing will be very much appreciated.
 
Thanks SO much in advance for any help on this subject!
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tim3320070

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Probably the wrong forum but I loved my older version of the C500 (FBI-500). It's not bass heavy or colored sounding, it's very neutral so if you are looking to add color, bass, mids to your sound, then this is not the amp for you. If you have speakers that are a little bass heavy or thick sounding as I do, then this amp will sound wonderful (at least to me) as it seems to tighten everything up. My guess is it will sound different than the NAD but you may not like the change from colored to neutral. 
 
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dcivera

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Hi Tim,
 
thanks so much for your answer. B&W 604 are very heavy bass speakers, combined with NAD amp I always felt it is a little bit 'boomy', that's why I think a neutral amp can balance everything up (more colorful mid and treble). Moreover, I think a-gd should be far superior in definition and general dynamics than any NAD amp, I am wrong with this statement?
 
Cheers,
 
Diego
 
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oculus

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Hi Diego
 
Can't help you at the moment but I do have a c500 on order with a nfb -8 dac.  My speakers are very revealing but do have a lot of bass.  I am hoping the combination of a neutral amp with a smooth sounding dac with the acss connection will give me the sound I am looking for.  This is a fully balanced system which may give a little more to the sound quality.
Jason
 
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dcivera

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Hi oculus,
 
many thanks for your input. Hope to hear from you soon with some meat to share from your c-500 unit.
 
cheers!
 
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tim3320070

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Quote:
Hi Tim,
 
thanks so much for your answer. B&W 604 are very heavy bass speakers, combined with NAD amp I always felt it is a little bit 'boomy', that's why I think a neutral amp can balance everything up (more colorful mid and treble). Moreover, I think a-gd should be far superior in definition and general dynamics than any NAD amp, I am wrong with this statement?
 
Cheers,
 
Diego
I have never owned NAD gear. I have had some Carver, Emotiva and Cambridge Audio amps but they are no match for the AGD gear I have IMO.
 
 
 
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Pricklely Peete

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Quote:
I have never owned NAD gear. I have had some Carver, Emotiva and Cambridge Audio amps but they are no match for the AGD gear I have IMO.
 
 

I've owned and been around NAD stuff (the old English manufactured stuff from the 80's) for a long time ...I also had the FBI-500 in house but gave it to a friend for his BD (but I do hear it every time I visit their home). Suffice to say the C-500 versus NAD separates (Monitor Series 1300 preamp + Monitor Series 2400 amp) in the regular product line up ( other than NAD Master Series) is a clear cut above in every category. The one trait of A-gd amps is their ability to expose your source quality rather completely. Transparency is absolute which requires careful matching of not only your source gear but your speakers as well. The C-500 likely has the same voicing as the FBI-500 which I would describe as dead neutral with a vary slight hint of Class A (type) warmth. That warmth is very slight however. I would not pair this integrated amp with a bright source. A very warm source and neutral speakers might be a good setup. A neutral source combined with a neutral amp in conjunction with warm bass heavy speakers would be ideal. If one wants utter neutrality then this amp is a good choice. Another excellent amp in a similar price range is the Bada Purer 3.8SE (Hybrid amp, tube front end and SS back end). It allows some flexible options (owning/use) that the C-500 is incapable of delivering (if those options matter). The C-500 is a major cut above most of the name brands (Pioneer,Marantz,NAD,HK,Rotel,Adcom,Parasound etc) in the same price range. The best way to tap 100% of the C-500's performance is to use a fully balanced source with it, quality cables (IC's, speaker cables,and mains cables) and if your main L/R speakers lack deep bass extension a speedy subwoofer. I would suggest copper cables throughout if your system leans on the sterile/dry side of the fence (source determines this to large extent). The C-500 pretty much gets out of the way of the music and can be chameleon like changing it's tune as you try out various sources of differing aural qualities.
 
In any case the A-gd amps are very good value delivering performance well above the price point. The sound signature (amp wise) is not what I want for my system but do not let that influence your opinion. There are very few examples of a top flight integrated that can match the C-500  in it's price range..if any. The design is truly dual mono differential balanced....have a look at the build pics.
 
Peete.
 
 
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sorue

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Quote:
I also had the FBI-500 in house but gave it to a friend for his BD (but I do hear it every time I visit their home).
 
In any case the A-gd amps are very good value delivering performance well above the price point. The sound signature (amp wise) is not what I want for my system but do not let that influence your opinion.
 
Peete.
 
Peete, so what amps are you using for your speakers right now?
 
 
 
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oculus

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Nice insight to the audiogd amp. My amp and dac have been sent so will be interesting to see how the sound plays out
 
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dcivera

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Hi Peete,
 
thanks a million for your insight on the C-500 amp, really revealing! I must say that I'm pretty convinced right now the A-gd amp can be the 'magic' I need for my future system (neutral source + neutral amp + warm, heavy bass speakers).
 
Unfortunately, the NFB-3 dac I recently bought is not fully balanced. Do you think I should get a more expensive one (like the NFB-1WM) in order to get the most out the C-500?
 
John Darko is about to put up his review of the C-10 and C-39MK3 combo on his site, I'm pretty interested on what the man has to say about A-gd amps :)
 
Cheers!
 
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Pricklely Peete

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Quote:
Peete, so what amps are you using for your speakers right now?
 
 

A mix of Marantz/Parasound mono blocks and a stereo Odyssey Stratos + Extreme. I did have a big dual mono EL34 amp on the ET LFT-VIIIb mid/tweeter panels but that amp suffered a mishap (my dumb mistake) which necessitated the use of the Marantz mono back up spares (decent amps but they cannot hold a candle to either the Parasound or Odyssey amps, nor touch a HQ tube amp). Ideally speaking I like to use tube amps with planar panels with SS amps handling the bass duties (dynamic cones <180 hz). The Marantz amps will be replaced by a set of VTA M-125 tube mono blocks in the next month or so.
 
Peete.
 
 
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Quote:
Hi Peete,
 
thanks a million for your insight on the C-500 amp, really revealing! I must say that I'm pretty convinced right now the A-gd amp can be the 'magic' I need for my future system (neutral source + neutral amp + warm, heavy bass speakers).
 
Unfortunately, the NFB-3 dac I recently bought is not fully balanced. Do you think I should get a more expensive one (like the NFB-1WM) in order to get the most out the C-500?
 
John Darko is about to put up his review of the C-10 and C-39MK3 combo on his site, I'm pretty interested on what the man has to say about A-gd amps :)
 
Cheers!


NFB-3 will suffice for now but I would definitely think about a source upgrade (NFB-8 to be exact) down the road for the C-500 should you go with that amp.
 
Peete.
 
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dcivera

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Thank you very much Peete.
 
Are aware of the transistor difference on the C-500 and C-501 units and do you think it's worth the extra cash (not really sure how much it is)?
 
Diego.
 
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haloxt

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I know this is wrong on many levels, but my wonky guesstimations would put fbi-500 at ~85% dead on precise or true to source, while phoenix is ~95%+ dead on precise. The 15% of the time I don't think fbi-500 is dead on precise, it is still "very" precise, just missing some microdetail and umph in dynamics. Or in less made up statistics, I think fbi-500 has a slight fuzziness trying to resolve minute details and dynamics, but is nonetheless dead neutral, just a little bit lacking in technical performance.
 
Just to give a better idea of what I mean by "dead on precise", I'd rank the following gear this way in terms of dead on:
 
dac9mk3 80%, dac19mk3 60%, sparrow wm8741 40%, phoenix/fbi-500 single-ended 60%, ipod 5g 15%. And even though I think my ipod makes sound that is off from perfect 85% of the time, I still use it about an hour a day.
 
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dcivera

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Quote:
I know this is wrong on many levels, but my wonky guesstimations would put fbi-500 at ~85% dead on precise or true to source, while phoenix is ~95%+ dead on precise. The 15% of the time I don't think fbi-500 is dead on precise, it is still "very" precise, just missing some microdetail and umph in dynamics. Or in less made up statistics, I think fbi-500 has a slight fuzziness trying to resolve minute details and dynamics, but is nonetheless dead neutral, just a little bit lacking in technical performance.
 
Just to give a better idea of what I mean by "dead on precise", I'd rank the following gear this way in terms of dead on:
 
dac9mk3 80%, dac19mk3 60%, sparrow wm8741 40%, phoenix/fbi-500 single-ended 60%, ipod 5g 15%. And even though I think my ipod makes sound that is off from perfect 85% of the time, I still use it about an hour a day.

Hi haloxt,
 
thank you very much for sharing your knowledge! 
 
 
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