Advice on new System


First of all I am new here. If this has been answered over and over again, then please just point me in the right direction, and I will refine my searching skills.

I am going to be building a new system from scratch, for a room in my house that has become available to me for use as an office and listening room. Roughly its about 4x5m with a fire place at one end and a bay window at the other. The fire won’t be used and the speakers will sit either side of it.

My Primary source is VINYL, 99.99% of what I will be listening to on this system. I may stream occasionally just to hear some new stuff, but I’m not bothered about that…

I have some options, but I am seriously considering the following

  • M700
  • Stellar Pre Amp
  • New Stellar Phono Stage

That dream of a shopping basket is about 33% of my budget.

On top of that I need

  • Speakers
  • Turntable (with bits and pieces)
  • Rack
  • Chair x 2 (Seriously )
  • Any sound treatments for the room (which might just be a rug or two hung along the walls), ie diffuser’s
  • Power Treatment unit?

One thing I don’t have is the luxury of time to audition different speakers and turntables.

So my question for anyone who has a similar size room and components (I know the Stellar photostage is new, but I’m assuming you will be using something similar ). What speakers / turntable works with this setup, that leaves me change for the other bits…

I’m not looking for ‘go out and buy this’ just some helpful pointers in which direction to look…

Any advice welcome


Where are you located? In the UK per your name? Where?
What type of music?

Speakers first. The rest follows.

If you have a fireplace the wall is likely brick and the best thing is to mount the turntable on a wall bracket. That solves a whole load of problems.

With so much vinyl, a Loricraft PRC3 or PRC4 is a great investment if you haven’t got one.

A quick hitter:

Maximize your speaker budget and save for the other bits and bots.

Have fun.

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I agree with speaker budget and moving them to top priority but I would caution to not buy too much speaker for the space. Stand mounts with subs in separate locations works better than floor standers in my space which is very similar in size.

Enjoy the journey and don’t buy if it can’t be returned and/or evaluated in your space

The challenge with speakers first approach is one needs something to drive them…proverbial catch-22

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Speakers are a tough one to recommend. I’m sure the group can provide some great recommendations but the interaction of the speakers and your room is very important. One person may love and enjoy Harbeth speakers but if you have a dead listening room this may leave you with a lack of detail retrieval. The Stellar Phono is a very flexible unit and can work with nearly anything on the market, so you won’t need to worry much about that interaction. But do focus on getting a good turntable and cartridge. Some recommendation from me would be any turntable from Rega, they have a wide range at various pricepoints. Another turntable brand I would recommend is VPI, they are a little higher on the price range but all of their tables are high quality and will provide fantastic playback. Here’s a sample of maybe a system I would setup, but it’s just my preference:
Harbeth 30.2
REL T/9i (possibly a pair)
Rega P6 or VPI Prime Scout

But double check that these are within your budget, if not let us know and we can throw out some other options. Or feel free to give me a call 720-402-3924

Glad it wasn’t me to first recommend Harbeth as I mention mine too often!!!

OK, here goes: the budget should allow Dutch & Dutch 8c, a Rega RP10 + Alpheta 2 and the Aura phono stage. There is huge love for the 8c, lots of owners here, the Rega kit is top of their range from a company that gets all the vinyl prizes, pretty much everywhere. The RP8 would be fine as well.

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Big ++1 for the Rega RP-10 / Apheta 2 combo. Just made this upgrade after happily owning a wildly pimped P5 for about 10 years. Seriously consider finding the table used. I stumbled on one for $2500 which might be the best value in analog playback I can imagine. Also, the Stellar phono pre sounds like a great option. I have a Parasound JC3 Jr. that is excellent at $1500 new.

And second the idea of a turntable wall mount shelf. Rega makes a newer version with adapters specifically for the RP8/10.

Good luck with your adventure and I totally agree with the “speakers first” mentality. I have Sanders model 10e and they literally drive all decisions for amps and crossover.

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Thanks for all of the great advice!

First of all (@stevensegal l) less I am from the UK and about 30 miles from the Harbeth factory! Music, I will start with Floyd, love Prog new and old. LCD Soundsystem American Dream, what an Album, Then give me some Sunn o))) (Nothing I can afford is ever going to get near hearing them live…). Then to some blues, not really into classical.

I already own an RP6+Dynector 10x5 , RS5’s and a BRIO-R in my (bed filled) spare spare room, which has been my vinyl listening room for the last 6 years. This is staying in place. I could not bring my self to spend any more money on this as the speakers basically fire directly into a king-size bed…

Rega are (I believe) launching a new RP10 along side the new Rega Aethos amp (which is what has set me on this journey). So second hand RP10’s may be on the market soon…

The advice on small speakers (thanks @brett66 ) and a sub-woofer is sound. In my ‘living area’ TV room, I have Linn Katan’s paired with a REL Storm III, once the Storm is positioned properly the system is a dream. But it fills a narrow space and the room is not suited to a grown up system.

Now I am NOT in any way knowledgeable regarding speakers (hence me asking for advice here). But aren’t Dutch & Dutch’s active speakers, doesn’t that negate the need for a power amp. Please just send me a link, I am sure there are numerous discussions somewhere on this). But I’ve always assumed a power amp drives passive speakers… Be gentle I am here to learn!

The other speakers that I have considered are Spendors ( I am 10 miles from their factory…).

And to too name check @stevensegal again, I forgot to include a decent record cleaner in my list!

So, Speakers first in my first lesson!



I’m not familiar with Dutch & Dutch but if they are listed as active that would imply that they are self amplified, so no need for a power amp. Another great speaker that is active are the models from ATC.

I live in Scotland. Same as you an LP (vinyl) devotee … 75 - 25 in favour of vinyl. Digital side DMP, DS-DAC, Rega Valve Isis:

Yes, the RP10 is soon be discontinued! The new Planar 10 will hit stores by the end of September - hopefully; lighter plinth / different material / shape / has the ceramic platter of the RP10, new arm, new main bearing, new hub and most importantly a new TTPSU housed in a half width case designed to match the Aura and the new Aethos amplifier.

I sold my RP10 at the end of last year because I heard through the grapevine a new deck was looming… RP10 is a stunning deck, the best deck I’ve ever owned… I still have two LP12s. The one I use everyday is 30 years old, but I wouldn’t sell either of them, that said, they are akin to a potters wheel when directly compared against the RP10…

LP12’s have had several upgrades over the years. It’s never ending owning an LP12 whereas with Rega just connect, play…‘dead easy’!

I was informed from someone in the know that the new Planar 10 is considerably better than the RP10 and incorporates design from the Rega Naiad.

I bought the Rega Aura phono amplifier at the turn of the year and it is by a distance the finest phono amplifier I’ve heard. Truly special. Like you said, there will more than likely be a few RP10’s up for sale. It is a wonderful machine !! Hope you can grab one. You won’t regret it…

I triangulate you being somewhere near Bexhill which, for the benefit of foreigners, makes you surrounded by analogue. SME, who own Garrard and Loricraft, are a few miles away, Origin Live about an hour away, Chord Electronics 45 minutes and Rega only about 90 minutes away. I have one of Mark Baker’s OL Illustrious Mk3 arms, they are brilliantly engineered and he is also a Loricraft dealer.

I love my Harbeth to death and I play plenty of vinyl, but mostly digital and use a Devialet. The tried and trusted route is a Rega package, already discussed. The Aetheos is just about enough power to get close to the best of Harbeth, probably enough for your room. The other route, and similarly popular, is Luxman, like the L-509X integrated with a very good phono amplifier, or a cheaper Luxman with a Rega phono amp. This is powerful enough and will probably knock the spots off the M700 and you just don’t need that power. For this route, best speak to HiFi Dave at Radlett Audio, then go see him. Give him my regards.

Hegel are very popular as well, like the 190, and Harbeth own some for exhibition and show purposes. Great value with a full range of digital inputs as well and use with an external phono amplifier.

The Stellar phono and Rega Aura both have balanced outputs and all these amplifiers have balanced inputs.

The Dutch & Dutch 8c contains speakers, amplifiers, pre-amp, DAC, streamer, DSP and is apparently now Roon Ready. It’s the completely opposite approach. As well as digital, it has balanced analogue inputs so can be connected to a balanced phono amp. They have quickly gained a reputation for working well in just about any room with any music. I can’t see any dealers near you, but there are two 10 minutes from me, KMR Audio (professional) and Purite (consumer). Keith at Purite is very helpful. So the only place not to far from you to arrange a Harbeth/D&D comparison would be at my house!

Your nearest PS Audio dealer is probably in Guildford, they do Harbeth but not Rega. They may be able to lend you a Stellar phono. However good it is, I think it will struggle in the UK as Rega and others have the market stitched up, it is quite expensive, The Chord Symphonic is only £400 more. Rega resale prices are also very good, whereas my PSA kit depreciated heavily and I had to ship overseas to sell.

Look at BK Electronics if you are interested in subs - far better value than REL for the likes of you and I.

The smallest active ATC, 19 liter model, is probably going to over power the space. I’ve found the 11 liter model to be ‘goldilocks’, just right.

Love my stellar system. Can’t go wrong.

If you’re seriously considering going with passive monitors and a pair of subwoofers like the BK’s Steven recommended, I would give the Buchardt S-400’s a listen. They give you 30 days to try them out at home and they pay the shipping both ways. They are way better than they should be at their price. Bass is easy down to the mid 30’s in-room. The pair I have only have about 200 hours on them and paired with a pair of Rythmik F-12G’s they easily fill my 22’x26x10’ Family Room. In your room they should be even better. They only need 18-24" from the rear wall.

@Mike_UK_T: An unconventional speaker recommendation for you: Anthony Gallo Acoustics (AGA) Strada 2 Speakers

These will fill a room with three dimensional sound from the top to bottom frequencies with a couple of stereo subwoofers, like the REL T/5i’s someone else mentioned. I am a huge AGA fan and these Stradas (MK I or MK II) are world beaters at their price points when new and are absolute bargains on the used market. Very room friendly in tight quarters…

Ok, the 2019 Sherlock Holmes award for sleuthing goes to… @stevensegal

Re the Luxman interesting, there is a Dutch & Dutch dealer in Tonbridge wells, called IglooAudio. They also list (stock) PS-AUDIO!

Sent them an email…


Peter at Igloo is great to deal with

Thanks to everyone for advice, I am now more confused than before I asked my question…

…I view this as a good thing! I don’t want to purchase something too quickly, that I am going to regret.

My first amp was a Creek cas4040. Nice simple and for me it seemed it out-performed what I considered to be gimmick ridden Amps at twice the price. I’ve never forgotten the first time I heard Private investigation, played on an RP3 and the creek at my local dealers,

So I need to win the lottery big time, buy an old hotel and fill every room with a different system after spending two years listening to all of the options.

…and I bet I still wouldn’t be able to choose.

Back to the real world, I am definitely going to look at a stellar system paired with .

I want to look at a Chord system (not reference) and a few more I have been eyeing up.

I will post back my final decision here. Probably in about 8-10 weeks time…



VPI Classic Turntable with a Benz Micro Wood L2 was what I used for years. Never let me down. Of course the Cart was rebuilt twice.