Last week, my wife and I began to consider making a change.
Currently we listen to most of our music through iTunes on a 13 year old Aiwa NSX-AV800 system hooked up to my Mac.
The Aiwa is and always has been a crappy piece of hardware, but to tell the truth I do like it's sound. The body serves as amplifier and nothing more (Both the CD and Cassette have been non-functional for many, many years). It is hidden in a corner, taking up eight cubic feet of our small condo. The same is true for the two speakers, which are large and ugly. While I like their sound, it has come to my attention, there may be some much better options out there.
My initial thought was to replace just the speakers and Stephen Mejias was kind enough to suggest the PSB Alpha B1, or the Paradigm Atom or Infinity Primus P162.
Reading the reviews was exciting and then I read the very recent review of the AudioEngine A2B, which is self-powered and would eliminate the need for the Aiwa entirely, which would allow me to reclaim space where I can pile more unattended to piles of paper. Very exciting!
But then, I thought, what about the Audioengine 5 which looks like the big sister to the A2B? Surely it must sound better? Unfortunately, that unit doesn't appear to be reviewed here.
So, I appear to have five options (options are great - I love options) but I don't really have any way to evaluate my choices.
So my big questions are:
1.) Is the Audioengine 5 a good deal better than the A2B?
2.) Would they both be outclassed by the PSB Alpha B1?
3.) Given the list below, is there one item that stands out as being better suited?
4.) How much better might all of this sound than my 14 year old Aiwa
5.) If I don't go the powered speaker route, is there a small (in size) reasonably priced amp that could replace the very ugly Aiwa?
6.) Is this one of those things where I set out to spend $300, then creep up to $500 then $900 and the next thing you know I am explaining to the bank that I need a loan cause I need my music to sound more awesome? (selfdivider's tale has me frightened.)
I don't know if musical choice is a factor in this, but, for reference, here is a list of songs that I love and I would be ecstatic if their qualities were to be improved with a better sound system:
Missa Luba - Muungano National Choir, Kenya
Nothing Really Blue - Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Cantus Arcticus, concerto for birds and orchestra - Einojuhani Rautavaara
When, In Disgrace With Fortune And Men's Eyes - Rufus Wainwright
Teach Me Tonight - Dinah Washington
Scandal Ska - Ska-talites
Spiegel Im Spiegel - Arvo P