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john rva
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First Set up. Music only, majority vinyl

Looking to upgrade my set up and take my music listening to the next level. Unfortunately there's only one shop in town (Richmond, VA) I'm aware of and I'm not 100% sure the sales dude is on the same page as me or has the same appreciation for music that I do. He's knowledgable, just not sure we're on the same page.

So far he suggested either the Rotel RA 1570 amp or Anthem MRX 700. There are two sets of speakers I've listened to so far, Bowers and Wilkins 683 and Paradigm Studio 20. I like the B & Ws but I'm a little disappointed that a sub would be necessary for either of those. I guess that's typical?

To recap, I'm looking to use the system exclusively for music, mostly vinyl, but also CDs and digital formats.

I listen to rock mostly. Today I took with me Jack White's Blunder Bus, two My Morning Jacket albums, Beastie Boy's Paul's Botique, Dark Side of the Moon and Radiohead Kid A.

I currently have a Sony turntable, a Sony receiver / amp from the 90's, Bose bookshelf speakers and some Cerwin Vega floor speakers.

My sole purpose of this system is to play music. The room is 12.5' x 26'. Carpeted with an 8ft ceiling except where a finished duct runs through the middle. Setting it up lengthwise.

Looking to take the whole set up to the next level. Budget would be around $3K, but would like to keep it under. Any advice or places to get info would be appreciated?

john rva
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Or, instead of places to get info

give me your opinion of what woudll work well based on my music tastes, budget and room

JoeE SP9
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sub woofer

With a speaker that has a frequency response of 38Hz to 20KHz +-3dB (B&W 683) you may find a sub woofer helpful. If you find one necessary maybe you're listening for and expecting a bass response that is boosted rather than relatively flat.

If you're used to the bass from Cerwin Vegas you may not be happy with speakers that don't have a boosted bass response.

The lowest note on a standard 4 string electric bass is ~41.2Hz

Bill B
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q&a

Good point made that a subwoofer for those speakers may be helpful, but not necessary.  Some years ago I became a convert to the value of a supplementary subwoofer, even tho I had full range loudspeakers - it helps.  That's just my opinion.

What type of components are you looking to include in your budget?  Is that amount for just speakers and amp, or is it meant to include turntable, cartridge, disc player, etc also?

john rva
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Components

The budget is set for the amp, speakers, turntable and cartidge. Once I have those items, I'll look to add additional pieces like a CD player, sub etc. I'm so new to this, I really don't have much of a clue on what I am doing.

I've always had what I feel is a good ear. I've had a deep appreciation for music since about the 5th grade. Up until now, I've been satisfied with set up I've had, but I've read quite a bit about and heard a few nice systems and I would really like to take my listening experience to the next level. I've just moved to a new house. I'm older and more of a home body now and I think I would get the use and apprecciation out of a nice upgraded system

JoeE SP9
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Sub woofers

There are four sub woofers in my system. I'm an advocate of distributed bass. Multiple sub woofers always sound a lot better than a single one.

It's just that were I doing an initial acquisition and setup of a system a sub woofer (or two) wouldn't be at the top of my list unless I was buying bass shy stand mounted speakers.

Bill B
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since

Since you have contact with a dealer, a pretty good option is to work with them and let them know you want some time to get it right.  If they're a decent dealer they will want to make you satisfied and will respect your budget.  They may ask you to consider more $ but that's OK, they can do that to anyone regardless of budget.  And if you find something that you like a lot more, for a little more $, then that's useful to know, whether or not you buy.

If you don't like what you are getting from the dealer, and don't want to go to other cities to shop, then stereophile & other reviews are your friend, as are internet dealers and internet direct-to-customer manufacturers.  There's a lot to that so I will not take the time right now to start listing specific components.  A few online dealer sites include MusicDirect, AcousticSounds, AudioAdvisor. 

(Distributed bass - yes, a good thing. I think I get some partial benefit from that, even with a single subwoofer, since I still run my main speakers full-range. Perhaps later can evolve to multi subs)

john rva
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Seems a Project Debut Carbon Turntable

fits my budget and what I would be looking for on an entry level turntable. I'd prefer to get this all at the same time. From the reviews I've read and boards I've been on it seems the Paradigm speakers probably fit my genre of music a little more and have a little more "punch" maybe. Not sure if that is the right word. But the sound is definitely more muddled, to me, then the B & Ws, although the B & W's lack some of the lower end sounds I'm looking for. I'm so new to this, I question if I'm really hearing what I'm hearing. No matter what I get it will be an upgrade, but I'm guessing there's not a big advantage to get the turntable until I figure out the other componenets. Using the project through my Cerwin Vegas or Bose Bookshelf and being powered by a JVCRX6000 probably wouldn't do it any justice or make that much of a difference. Is that logical?

JoeE SP9
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really hearing

What you're really hearing is exactly what you're really hearing.laugh

Once you have auditioned various speakers and have some idea what you like and don't like it's time to trust your ears.

Transducers (devices that change one kind of energy to another), ie. speakers and phono cartridges are the least accurate and exhibit the most obvious differences of any part of a system. IMO (not every one's) there are differences in the sound of different amplifiers. However, they are extremely small in comparison to those you'll hear in speakers and to a lesser extent in phono cartridges.

Get speakers you like and are happy with. Then worry about the sound of cartridges. Bear in mind, the cartridge that comes with a given TT is usually fairly well suited for it. This doesn't mean that an upgrade won't be an improvement.

The sound of amplifiers and receivers should be taken up after the transducers. There is a caveat; the phono stage of the amplifier or receiver can make a considerable difference in the sound of a given cartridge. Most of this has to do with proper loading of a cartridge. It's usually not a significant issue because there is a certain amount of standardization in the load requirements of phono cartridges.

john rva
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Thanks for the feedback

I still have yet to make a purchase. There are so many differing opinions and so few options for me to listen to locally. I'll be traveling north soon and will hit up some shops hopefully to learn more.

A couple options I'm considering: Peachtree Audio Decco vs Nova 125. I think i can get by with the Decco because I will rarely have the opportunity to really crank it up.

Other suggestions have been Marantz PM8004, but I think that is out of my price range. NAD seems to be suggested frequently

I keep hearing very mixed reviews about Golden Ear Trinton 2 and Trinton 7. I'd like to check these out.

PSB T6 were recommended based on my tastes, as were the Monitor Audio Silver RX6

dem45133
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As one who upgraded on a budget only twice in 33 years...

A couple of things I've learned...  I started out 33 years ago and bought the better brands mid line (all early HK units which was still hand built then) and used them with a pair of Mirage SM2.5s (their Flagship model then when they were designed and built by the original Canadian company) as my main base for 15 years.  I then upgraded to new (at the time) Rotel separates (RB 980BX amp, mataching preamp with phono (one of last with phono) and CD player of the same vintage in the Mid 90s still driving the Mirage SM 2.5s.  After another 15 years, that amp and 3 more identical used ones off eBay two years ago make the base 7.1 power for the system I still use now.  While I still hard rock to the old Mirage sm2.5s on occation, I bought used Vandersteens 2Ce's for the main LR which for "musical reproduction as close to the original instrument as possible" which is what Vandersteen strives very hard for and markets as.  I relagated the old Mirages to the surround LR or "Memorex Moments" that I will not do to the Vandersteens... I run a RB-980BX in bridged 260 watt mono mode bi-wired for each Vandersteen but do not push them.  The single RB 990BX 200 wpc does them well too.  Oh... and match your sources... mine are all Rotel now with the expetion of the turntable which is early 80s HK.

My Thoughts:

1) as you are doing... research, listen, research, listen, and more research.  It took me 30 years to know what I know... and its not all that much compared to many.  The high end stores will cator to this and when your ready, buy something from them so they stay in business. 

2) as you are doing... look into the lower to mid level of the audiophile brands ...since the highest end of audiophile is more than we paid for the house, the 1 ton, and the kids combined!!!... the lower to mid levels are more in line with what most of us can think very seriously on.

3) Since most audiophile types take steps NOT to abuse their systems, the used market can be a source for well proven designs such as mid 90s Rotel amps and preamps, and other older audiophile brands.

I have had very good luck and am quite happy with the mid 90s Rotel units and the Vandersteens (a pair used 2Ce's and a pair of 1Bs).  Both are on eBay all the time as many of us older audiophylic types are getting old and dieing off... but our equipmnet is still fine.  Also, some are simply those of us upgrading to newer surround sound units and many older excellent pieces simply do not do the latest formats and cableing (HDMI as an example)... but their amps and 2 channel pieces are still mint.  Somthing to think about.  $1500 mid 90s Rotel RB 980BXs for around $250.  Vandersteen $2500 new 2Ces in mint condition used for $700-$800 and work as good as the day they were new.   Most true audiophiles do not beat their equipment like we (and they) did when we/they were young.

Of the higher end units I've bought from eBay I only had to return one due to mis-rep or mis function.  You can tell alot by how the ads are written and I specifically talk to them about their histories.

Now will the new mid level $2500 speakers out perform my $700 ($2500 new) used mint Vandersteens... maybe, but it will be subtle I think (just my opinion as I've never ran em side by side off identical source/systems to see).   At new retail I'm listening to about $10Ks worth... I'm into them for about 3k.

If your interested pm me and I'll fill you in on all the system if your interested.

DEM

john rva
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checked out some options today

Listened to a classe cap 151 today with a project xpression iii and vandersteen 1c. Sounded awesome. I'm wondering what I would hear differently between the project xpression and the debut?

Bill B
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ooh

i have and like a ProJect Xpression III, but since you found a dealer w/ Vandersteens, try comparing the 2 with the 1.  The 1's are nice but the step up to the 2 (current model is the 2Ce Signature II) will be 50x more & better than the small difference between the debut and xpression. 

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