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satkinsn
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$500 or less

All -

I'm a very reluctant audiophile, someone who quite contentedly has listened to thousands of cds on a boombox until the last few months.

Somehow - and I didn't set out to do this - I started hearing what I was missing/what didn't sound right and...once it happened, there was no way to 'unhear' the problems.

So I did what many of you have done, reading extensively - particularly at the lowest of low-end equipment.

I love Stereophile's budget column, but even there the balance is - for good reason, no doubt - on equipment in the $1000 range.

So my question is: what's the best source of information for people like me, who are interested entirely in the low-end of stereo and home theater, but still want good advice about what to purchase and what to avoid?

For example; thanks to Stereophile and a few other publication/web sites, I've pieced together a small system for my family room - a Trends Micro amp, a pair of V3 Atoms and an Oppo 980.

But I really would like to know more about some of the choices at my local Best Buy: can you get good sound of the low end SONY universal player? Is the house brand Insignia receiver any good?

And though I've already purchased Infinitys and an NAD receiver for my office - (the NAD used for $100 and the Infinitys from HK's ebay store for about $120) - I have them hooked up to a Philips universal player that represents some kind of extreme low end for video play (if the Philips can't play the file, chances are nothing else will).

So within the realm of cheap, what would be an improvement?

My path is, I think, the opposite of self-divider's, who started with some of the same sorts of low end inquiries and quickly discovered he needed much better to be satisfied at all.

best,

Scott Atkinson
Watertown NY

Kal Rubinson
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Re: $500 or less


Quote:
I'm a very reluctant audiophile, someone who quite contentedly has listened to thousands of cds on a boombox until the last few months.

Somehow - and I didn't set out to do this - I started hearing what I was missing/what didn't sound right and...once it happened, there was no way to 'unhear' the problems.

Now you are one of us.


Quote:
But I really would like to know more about some of the choices at my local Best Buy: can you get good sound of the low end SONY universal player? Is the house brand Insignia receiver any good?

Here's the problem. Those products fit in a category that is huge and, while there may be some real winners in it, how can one find them without sampling many? Reviewers face the same statistical odds that you do.

Psst: Try the Pioneer Elite DV-48AV. Goes for about $100 these days.

Kal

satkinsn
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Re: $500 or less

Kal -

Thanks for both the note on the Pioneer and for the column you write - in particular, the music reviews.

Unmentioned in my first post: based on your sister publication's recommendation, I bought an Onkyo HTIB, which I like very much - and have been slowly exploring multi-channel sound.

One point I'm interested in, and part of why I started this thread: as others have observed, owning a decent stereo is no longer one of those things a lot of people do.

The reasons are many, but part of it - I suspect - is that audio equipment past the Best Buy stage is expensive, and that there aren't as many small audio dealers as there were.

So I'm looking at the 'how do I put a good stereo or surround system together' from the other end: what's readily available in small towns and shopping malls across the country.

The other reason I'm so interested in low end audio is - at least in the computer world, the saying 'You get what you pay for' is less and less true. You tend to get more than what you pay for, especially on the open source side of things, but with hardware as well.

I'm trying to see where or how that 'getting more than you pay for' might show up in audio equipment as well.

best,

s.

satkinsn
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Re: $500 or less

'Best Buy' is just my shorthand for 'readily available.'

I love the idea of the garage sale set-up; can you tell more about how you found it and what - exactly - you got (and what it sounds like)?

s.

linden518
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Re: $500 or less


Quote:
My path is, I think, the opposite of self-divider's, who started with some of the same sorts of low end inquiries and quickly discovered he needed much better to be satisfied at all.


Scott, you're a MUCH smarter man than me. I do think I could have found satisfaction at a much lower budget, too, though. Some budget gear that I highly recommend:

Sony Playstation SCPH-1001: I got this for $15 on eSleaze. Love this thing. Sounds fantastic. Of course it's not some upsampling to the nth degree, crazy-resolving CD player, but that's why it's so good. Read Art Dudley's formal review with John Atkinson's thoughtful measurements:

http://stereophile.com/cdplayers/708play/

I still use this player as one of my main digital sources. It'll sound better than what you find at Best Buy, AND be cheaper, too.

Speaker cables from Anti-Cables are excellent, too.

Also, check out head-fi.org. A lot of younger crowd, and a lively discussion involving budget gear there.

edwaroth
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Re: $500 or less

Your best bet for info regarding equipment is right here or Stereophile and TAS mag. Have you tried eBay or Audiogon for purchases? I picked up a gorgeous Marantz receiver,model 2270 in walnut case for two hundred and change on eBay late last year.The prices seem to go cycles so it is best to watch for a while,still,deals can be found.
Regards,Edw.A.Roth

satkinsn
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Re: $500 or less


Quote:

Sony Playstation SCPH-1001: I got this for $15 on eSleaze. Love this thing. Sounds fantastic. Of course it's not some upsampling to the nth degree, crazy-resolving CD player, but that's why it's so good. Read Art Dudley's formal review with John Atkinson's thoughtful measurements:

http://stereophile.com/cdplayers/708play/

I still use this player as one of my main digital sources. It'll sound better than what you find at Best Buy, AND be cheaper, too.

I'm following the saga of the SCPH-1001 with great interest, and it raises an interesting question for me, that of - for lack of a better word - proportionality.

The Playstation is dirt cheap (though try to find a cheap one on ebay right now!) but Art put the cheap outputs thru' a very nice pre-amp.

For an audiophile, that's a great, cool hack - taking something like the PS and making it sing.

But for a reluctant audiophile, one wonders what the PS will sound like pumped into, say, a T amp or a bottom of the line Onkyo or an HK receiver.

In other words, would I have to go further than my vague but real limits as a low end audio guy in order to coax the magical sound out?

A more real example of the problem is this: it was a no-brainer for me to add a set of Audioengine 2s to my main computer.

But am I walking over the line to now add a separate DAC between the computer and the speakers? Am I chasing a five or ten percent improvement (or less, if I listen to compressed audio)?

All that said, I love what everyone is writing here and am anxious to read more.

best,

s.

linden518
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Re: $500 or less


Quote:
But for a reluctant audiophile, one wonders what the PS will sound like pumped into, say, a T amp or a bottom of the line Onkyo or an HK receiver.

In other words, would I have to go further than my vague but real limits as a low end audio guy in order to coax the magical sound out?


The PS1 is a pretty forgiving player, and will sound good with many different kinds of gear (AD's review & JA's measurements pretty much testify to this...) I tried it both with my tube amp, Leben, and my used solid state amp, Plinius... sounds fantastic with both. And dude. You don't lose much with $15 anyway (although I've heard someone buy the PS1 on Audiogon for like $75 last month or something!)

judicata
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Re: $500 or less

On the PS1 - this raises several questions.

(1) How does a $100 Sony CD player sound?
(2) If it is as good as the PS1, then forget I said anything.
(3) If it sounds worse, then why? A lot of R&D and marketing goes into the playstations, so their per-unit cost is always much higher at first (even above the sale price for the PS3, at least for awhile), but then goes much, much lower. You can get a brand new PS2 for about $100 now.

So, the stuff that makes the PS1 sound good has to be cheap to make. The R&D is already sunk (and recovered). They should be able to make a $50 player that sounds great, but even if they could market a $100 audiophile quality CD player, then they'd really be challenging to competition. Really.

Finally, have we been DUPed? (well, I don't use a CD player, so have YOU been duped )? Do all cheap CD players sound just as good?

Of little direct interest to me, but it has broad implications...

Drtrey3
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Re: $500 or less

Judicata, as I recall, the PS1 had rolled off treble and bass, but what was left was certainly not too bright and it was pleasant but certainly not reference.

I have never owned a high dollar player, but I have owned lots of cheap ones and a very respectable Denon that I use now and a nice Marantz that I sold. I notice that the cheapies tend to sound glassy and harsh and flat while my two good players sounded more round and pleasant.

Cheap players are a commodity made by finding cheap parts and putting them in a fun looking plastic case. Sometimes that works and sounds good, but I have not heard a cheapie sound as good as the players I spent some cash on.

Trey

dchisholm
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Re: $500 or less

Hi all,

I am a relative newbie myself. I have a modest 2-channel system consisting of McIntosh amp/speakers, Adcom pre-amp, a Tascam CD recorder/player, and various analog stuff.

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