S300 or M700's?


#1

Here’s my predicament…my current setup is a set of new Monitor Audio Silver 300’s, a Bluesound Node 2 playing Tidal HiFi, and a NAD 326bee integrated amp (50w x 2). My associated equipment is a PS Audio Duet, PS Audio Power Port Classic, and Audioquest wiring (power cables, interconnects, speaker cable).

I am wanting to upgrade my amplification, but am stuck on what path to take. I understand the M700’s are very likely the best way to go, but I’m wondering just how much improvement in my set-up they would be over something like the S300.

My budget is relatively limited as I live on a modest income (firefighter) and am blessed with 6 young kids under the age of 13:) So, if I can get something like the S300 for half the cost of the M700’s and get similar performance, I’m struggling why I would need to save up for a few more years to get the M700’s instead of just enjoying the S300 now. Further, is my system even resolving enough to truly differentiate the difference between the S300 and the M700’s?

FYI, I’m considering getting a PS Audio GCD to drive either one of these setups as well.

Thoughts? Wisdom? Council?

Thanks,

Doug


#2

When I bought my monoblocks I considered the two channel version. My decision was based on improved performance and future upgrades. If I had the monoblocks, that was one less upgrade down the road. If you can swing it, you won’t regret it.


#3

Get the S300 and enjoy it now. It will be easier to manage, one box vs. two, and with that many kids around you won’t be able to ever have the quiet time to hear the difference.

I had the S300 for several months, then upgraded to the M700. However, I’m semi-retired, have loads of quiet time and wanted to build a system to keep me happy for the next 10 years or more.

I could have been as happy with the S300. It’s a very high value amp.


#4

One way to get monoblocks at a better price is to buy them used. They do come up fairly often on numerous boards. Unless you tried to arc weld with these they should be very reliable.


#5

Now that is some good council. You make a very good point. My quiet time for listening is pretty much limited to the morning before everyone wakes up, and even then I seldom play it loud for obvious reasons.


#6

I have noticed them used for a pretty decent price, but with PS Audio’s generous trade-in program I can actually get either of these pieces new for roughly what I would buy them for used if I trade in my NAD - which I won’t even need anymore. Plus, if I get the GCD and pair with either the S300 or M700’s that proves to be even more savings. But I just need to save to get there! I almost have enough now to get the S300 , and I can just run it through my NAD 326bee and use it as a preamp to the S300 until I get the GCD. Or, I can even just run my Bluesound Node 2 directly into the S300 and bypass the preamp since it has a decent digital volume control in the meantime.


#7

If you’re one who tends to updgrade, Buy the M700s.


#8

Just get the S300. It will sound mmmmmmuch better than what you have, will drive those excellent Monitor 300’s very well and like many of us, you can make the jump to the BHK monoblocks or whatever after the last of those little peanuts has graduated college (ouch!!!).


#9

While I am one who likes to upgrade, upgrading to the M700’s would truly take me a few years to save up for. Whereas I’d be able to enjoy the S300 in a few months time! I know it’s nearly impossible to quantify how much of an improvement the M700’s would be, but if the S300 even approaches some of its qualities than I think I would indeed be happy with it.

Good advice everyone. Thank you all for the help - I really appreciate it!

Now I just need to decide if I should wire the S300 directly into my Bluesound Node 2 and use its digital volume control or use a preamp… It’s my only source at the moment, so I may consider doing it. I’ve done some a/b comparing and believe the Bluesound does sound better directly plugged into the amp section of my NAD 326bee bypassing preamp. Plus I may consider getting a Mytek Brooklyn down the road to utilize its quality DAC along with Preamp section directly into an S300 via balanced interconnects. That, or the GCD:)


#10

Listen to both to decide what you like best, obviously. But I’ve heard the Brooklyn and the GCD and I thought the GCD had a much more lush, hi-fi sound AND is a little less money.


#11

Interesting, and I’m glad you had the opportunity to listen to both and compare/contrast. Steve Guttenberg (Audiophiliac) seemed to prefer the Mytek Brooklyn over the GCD, but this is of course subjective and system dependent. I’m glad to hear you preferred the GCD and that it can “hang” with the likes of something like the Brooklyn which seems very well received. I just wish the GCD had MQA compatibility as I can hear/appreciate the different in my system…but that’s not everything.


#12

I used to own both Mytek Brooklyn and SGCD. To me the Brooklyn is livelier and a bit more accurate. It also has MQA decoding. However, I got rid of the Brooklyn first because I just hated its ergonomics and form factor (I guess I like things big). I then replaced the SGCD with BHK preamp and DS Jr after hanging around this forum too much.


#13

Yes, I"m beginning to see how this form could be dangerous to the pocketbook:) Heck, after playing with PS Audio’s trade-up program I see how I could get rid of two high-quality integrates I have on-hand and get the S300 and GCD for roughly $2K. That seems like a very promising combination for the money! However, I mainly use the Bluesound node 2 as my source, so I could just use the S300 and forego the GCD. I wonder how much better sound I’d get from the S300 ran with the GCD, or if I’d notice much of a difference at all? The DAC in the Bluesound Node 2 is no slouch - I’ve heard it’s a modified DAC that NAD uses in its Masters Series. It’s very capable.


#14

Most likely it will be power supply design and circuit component selection that give the GCD a big leg up. The chip is most likely fine, but the circuitry in the GCD will be better.

You could do the GCD and S300 and utilize the 30-day period to evaluate.


#15

I’ll guarantee you will hear a difference, albeit better, using both DAC and preamp sections of the SGCD. It is a much better match to the S300 amp. Plus, the SGCD and S300 will be fully balanced.


#16

Makes me wonder…when was the GCD launched and when was the last time its DAC chip was updated? Is the GCD “updatable?” The only reason I hesitate getting it is because it’s a preamp/dac. I’m tempted instead to get a standalone DAC that I can upgrade as time goes on (whether upgradding the DAC or downloading updates to the DAC preferably), along with a separate preamp.


#17

The GCD isn’t very old. It uses an older ESS DAC but the ‘sound’ is far more dependent on the implementation of a chip than the chip itself. Paul has said they tried many chips and preferred the sound of this older one over the newer.

It is not update-able.


#18

Using a newer ESS chip isn’t going to get anywhere near the SQ of a FPGA like Directstream or Chord.

Remember the Oppo Sonica DAC that just came out last year with the best of the best ESS Sabre Pro 9038 - not on anybodies radar most likely because Oppo has a bad reputation for high resolution and questionable musicality.


#19

Excellent information - thank you both.