You are here

Log in or register to post comments
magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

hey all, good forum idea! all this stuff i've read online can be really confusing.

I've been looking at an entry level hi-fi system...this is primarily to play records, not CDs...i'll get a CD player later...right now I want to spend right around $1000, not more..

Here's what I think I've decided on:

Rega P1 record player - $350

Epos ELS-3 monitor speakers - $329

Cambridge Audio Azur 340A integrated amp - $329*

*although it keeps saying that a phono in is "optional" so maybe i have to pay more...

These choices are based on reading online reviews, many in stereophile.com....

does this sound like a reasonably decent system for the money?

I'm upgrading from best buy type stuff I bought about 10 yrs ago...old Technics turntable (actually bought used and put new grado cheap cartridge ($60) on it)...JBL bookshelfs and Technics receiver surround sound.

thx for your help.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

This would be a wonderful, musical system!

You will need a phono preamp to connect to the 340A. Cambridge makes one designed to work with their products that is probably a good buy at less than $100 if I remember correctly. There are others of course.

I am jealous. Everyone should enter the hobby with a well thought out, appealing system such as this.

ohfourohnine
ohfourohnine's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:41pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Elk pretty much said it all. Your proposed system would be very hard to beat within your planned budget. If you can find a way to listen to the PSB Alpha B1's as well as the Epos ELS3's and let your own ears and room make the choice that would be nice. They're both fine offerings in your budget range, but you'll probably like the sound of one better than the other.

You will need a phono preamp. A really great tubed outboard phono pre for your system would be the Bellari VP129, but that will set you back about $250. Might put it on a list of gifts to yourself for the future.

Bellari does offer the VP 29 (no tubes) for about $75- a good starter. Audio Advisor currently advertises a demo of the Cambridge 640P at $160.

You should be proud of your choices. Wait till you hear the difference relative to the system you're replacing.. Compared with my first system, you're really talkin' high end stuff. Happy listening.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Great find on the 640P.

Another bit of encouragement: your system will be nicely balanced in terms of the components working well and making music together. I suspect that many of us that wanted to upgrade almost immediately did so because our systems had a failing of some sort - then our new purchases didn't really solve the problem - so we needed to buy more . . .

Yours is a system that should provide immediate and lasting listening pleasure.

As I said, I'm jealous.

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

thanks for the input guys! you're making me less scared to pull the trigger and order the stuff...

one guy at work said that he thought the Azur (which is 50 watts at 4 ohms) wouldn't be enough power, but my room isn't very big and i don't tend to listen to music that loud)...i figured i was better off getting the cambridge that i can afford rather than like a sony or something that's a lot more watts...is that correct?

but anyway cheers you've been a great help.

Ariel Bitran
Ariel Bitran's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: Jun 1 2007 - 2:14pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Hey Magma,

I'm considering some of the same products for my first system.

Take a look at the Rega Brio Integrated Amp. Its a little more expensive than the Cambridge but includes a Phono Stage. This could help from having to buy an additional phono stage.
Rega Brio Review

Also, check out the Music Hall 2.1 turntable. Its about the same price at the Rega P1.

As for the speakers, the Epos ELS-3s sound awesome. I listened to them a couple of weeks ago and they're definitely on my list. There are plenty of other loudspeakers out there for <$350. Here's just a few companies that make 'em: Ascend, Axiom, B&W, Dali, Energy, Fluance, Monitor, Outlaw, and Tannoy. This list could go on, so in case you want to decrease your budget, there are options.

Your systems sounds awesome

Keep us updated

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?


Quote:
...but my room isn't very big and i don't tend to listen to music that loud)...i figured i was better off getting the cambridge that i can afford rather than like a sony or something that's a lot more watts...is that correct?


Absolutely!

Unless you can actually hear and compare other equipment similarly setup I would stop shopping. It sounds like you have read oodles of reviews so you have as much info as you can get without listening and comparing.

While you can put together other equally good sounding systems for the money I don't think you can really better it.

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 week 5 days ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Uh Oh.......He's going to need cables.......

Seriously, all V nice choices, I have been looking hard at the P1, not a better way to get started into vinyl IMHO. At $350 w/ a decent cartridge, you could not better even if you bought used.
I am not familiar with the speakers, but these guys that are might know what they are talking about.
If they are fairly efficient, the Cambridge will do just fine. Congratulations, you did your homework and passed with flying colors!

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Wow, Magma! It sounds like you've been doing your homework. Like Elk and Cheapskate said, your proposed system is a huge step up from what you're used to and will be very satisfying.

I will second Ariel's recommendation of the Rega Brio. If you can swing it, definitely go listen to it. It is, in my opinion, in a league separate from other "budget" amplifiers. I bought one this summer and it has transformed the way I listen. I should mention that I, like you, was upgrading from mass-market junk, so a very audible difference was to be expected. The Azur will affect you similarly, but the Brio might stave off the upgrade itch for longer. And, as Ariel also mentioned, the Rega comes complete with an excellent phono stage. Since a P1 is on your list (and you're postponing the CD player ), it's obvious that you're a vinyl enthusiast and you appreciate Rega's virtues. You'd be very happy with the Azur, though.

I've listened to the P1 extensively, and it is a solid choice, especially for the modest price.

Speaker-wise, you might want to also add the Paradigm Atom Monitor or Mini Monitor to your list. I haven't compared them to the Epos, but they're good little performers.

Great choices!

Welcome to hi-fi and welcome to the forum!

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

wow thanks for all the advice everyone! very friendly forum : )

in any case, unfortunately, my ability to actually listen to stuff in stores is going to be fairly limited. the one
"hi fi" store i know of in my town pretty much exclusively deals marantz stuff and i really didn't like the sale people at all...i told them my price range and they instantly almost talked me into something near double which i just cannot do financially.

so i guess i might just go ahead and do this...the rega brio is a bit more expensive than i can afford, so i guess the cambridge and the phono preamp will have to do...

i might check out some of the other speakers people mentioned though and see if i could find some good deals online..thanks so much.

i'm sure whatever i get will sound amazing because obv. i've never really had a *good* system before.

Monty
Monty's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2005 - 6:55pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Do you intend to use stands with the speakers you are considering? I like what you have proposed and think that the Cambridge can probably have a phono card added to it by the factory. Anyway, you don't have to spend a bunch on speaker stands, but having the speakers placed on stands and reasonably situated in the room will make a lot of difference. Putting them on a shelf, against the wall, will strangle the sound.

If you are considering other speakers, you can make the cambridge sound like a 100 watt mutha if you get speakers with 90db or so sensitivity. If you are concerned about enough umph with the Cambridge, that's a cheap way to make the amp's power a non factor.

I still like the ones you are considering.

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 4 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Before you pull the trigger on the Cambridge, you might want to audition the NAD C325BEE amplifier ($400) and PP-2 phono stage ($130). They play in the same price and sonic class and are also a great match for the Rega P1.

Audioman
Audioman's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 9 2007 - 9:22am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Instead of the Cambridge, I would recommend the Harman Kardon HK 3480 Receiver. 2-channel (120 watts per), with phono preamp. Selling new online for $221.

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

well. i've ordered the stuff. i ended up going with the Cambridge Azur 540a, for a bit more power...the place was out of stock of the 340a, so he gave me $10 off the cambridge 540P phono pre-amp and $50 off the 540a integrated amp, for a total (plus free shipping) of 478, which was a bit more than the original order of 418, but for 60 buck more I got a little bigger amp --- I hope that was a good decision!!

also ordered the Epos speakers, found a black pair online for 299, they were 329 everywhere else, it looks like they wanted to get rid of a single pair of black finish at this one place, as they said there was only 1 left in stock.

Still waiting on the turntable, a friend of mine says he can get me 15 percent off at the Needle Doctor (i live in Mpls where the actual Needle Doctor store is)...

one thing, I just noticed a turntable called the Music Hall MMF-2.1 is the same price as the Rega P1...somebody from the forum emailed me w/concerns about the speed inconsistancies on the P1...is the MMF-2 a good turntable or better than the P1? There's also Pro-Ject in my price range as well...also the person who PM'd me mentioned a "Moth" by Brit Audio, which I take it to mean (judging by the website) that it is a Rega made for another company?..i was a bit confused...

thanks again for all your help.

ohfourohnine
ohfourohnine's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:41pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

If you took a poll of 100 audio hobbyists who had listened to the Rega P1 and the Music Hall 2.1 their preferences would probably split about 50-50. They are both well regarded, high value, entry level turntables. Pick the one which is available from the seller you trust the most. Both manufacturers will back their products and neither has anything to be ashamed of. Supporters of either over the other are generally just brand loyalists.

Regarding Project as an alternative, many Music Hall turntables are produced in the same factory as the Projects and the two brands use the same arms on many models. The Rega arms are widely immitated.

You shouldn't encounter extreme speed fluctuations on either turntable, but the use of outboard speed controllers benefits many turntables at the entry level and at price ranges far in excess of any of the turntables you're considering.

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

thx cheapskate!

sorry to keep bothering you all with what i imagine are sort of "dummy" questions, but i guess this is the forum for it....

as far as speaker wire and connection cables for connecting the turntable and phono preamp, etc....how important are they and how much can i get away with spending on those?

someone once told me that monster cable was "bullshit" (excuse the french), is this true? you see that stuff a lot at best buy etc and they say it is good.

Monty
Monty's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2005 - 6:55pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Before opting for a new budget table, I would wait and see what your old table sounds like with the new amp, speakers and phono stage. You might be surprised at just how nice your table sounds with the new gear.

As for cables, you might need a well shielded cable for the phono stage, but again, I would use what you already have and hold off on introducing any new variables to the sound just yet. In any case, I wouldn't spend very much on cables without knowing what I wanted to address with regard to the sound of the system.

I would consider speaker stands an absolute must before any other additions.

ohfourohnine
ohfourohnine's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:41pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

I'm with Monty - stands now, interconnects (cables) later.

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

have the Cambridge amp and phono pre set up...also on your advice got speaker stands and tried to do a decent set up (they are five and a half feet apart pointed to converge at the chair i sit in, about a foot away from the wall)...

the amp with the current speakers and turntable seem to be making a difference, esp. in higher volumes, it's much less distorted.

also the speaker stands and placement made a HUGE difference, even with these kinda crappy JBLs...

Monty
Monty's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2005 - 6:55pm
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

Believe it or not, gear really does need a little playing time to sound its best, so while its breaking in you can play around with speaker positioning. Speaker positioning can be the difference between so-so sound and "holy cow" sound.

In general, you want to form an equal triangle between your listening position and your speaker position. Having your listening position near the rear wall will enhance the bass a little and may be a good thing or could kinda muddy up the mids with too much boom. You'll have to decide on that for yourself.

As for speaker placement, that all depends on the dimensions of your room. Measure the room and post back and we'll see if we can get you in the ballpark for starters. Speakers placed near the wall (less than 2-3 feet) will generally enhance the low frequencies at the expense of spatial dimensionality...you know, that soundstage thangy. Just like sitting near the rear wall, this can be too boomy and you'll just have to try them near the wall and farther out from the wall to see which you prefer. If you don't need the bass reenforcement, it's usually better to move them out. Since you are using small speakers, it could go either way for your tastes.

As an aside, The Absolute Sound did another one of their "system recommendation" issues and you system is very similar to what they recommended for an entry level system.

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

well got the Epos ELS 3 speakers hooked up and WOW! this is so amazing, I've never heard music sound this good...thursday or friday I'm getting the turntable and I'll be set...

this has been a really great experience so far...thanks to everyone for the help...

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

YES!

This is what it's all about!

rmck818
rmck818's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 17 2007 - 11:26am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

If you still need some cables, here is a link to some decent ones at a great price:

http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/pshowdetl...FTOKEN=76726461

They are not a standard item and have limited stock so they won't be there forever. The cables are a good basic design, shielded but not using the shield as a signal conductor. The connectors are also of good quality which is important. Most of all, the price is right.

This retailer is a great source of audio parts and accessories at good prices. You will find other cables and parts for DIY cables if you are interested. I have purchased things from them many times and have had no problems.

Good luck with your system, and enjoy the music (Hmm, sounds familiar. . .)

smejias
smejias's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: Aug 25 2005 - 10:29am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?


Quote:
well got the Epos ELS 3 speakers hooked up and WOW! this is so amazing, I've never heard music sound this good...

Awesome!

rbroghammer
rbroghammer's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 14 2007 - 8:37am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

bipolar -

thanks for the link. glad i checked this thread today.

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

thanks bipolar - ordered 2 sets..great price...

magma90210
magma90210's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Aug 6 2007 - 9:36am
Re: How does this sound for my first "hi-fi" system?

picked up my Rega P1 today at lunch! Cannot wait to get off work and set this up!

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading