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Austin Bob
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In my 50's and want to rediscover music...

 

Hello all, I have been reading this forum for a few weeks now and I am ready (and most grateful) for any advice. Regrets in advance for the length of this post….

Without going into too many personal details, I’ll just start by saying that I’m in my 50’s and am now looking to rediscover my long neglected love of music (which began when I was 13 and saved-up enough money to purchase my first Pioneer turntable, receiver and speakers). Fast forward many years – I’ve had some mediocre small systems over the years, lost my job, sold my house and gone is the fat paycheck that would have been more than enough to dedicate $10K to an audio system. Such is life.

I now live in an apartment with 20’ x 12’ living room, really enjoying a simpler lifestyle, but have cash to invest in an audio system. Not really sure how much I want to dedicate to it, but I’m thinking around $1500 - $2000. I initially started looking on Crutchfield, but they seem more oriented toward home theatre gear. I do enjoy streaming movies over my Roku and would like to have better sound for my 40” Flat screen, but since my quest is to pursue a high quality music listening, I don’t see the need to set-up a surround sound system. So here are my questions:

1.      I need to rebuild a music collection. I have a bunch of CDs (some of which I would like to listen to), but there are so many artists and recordings that I want to explore. My music tastes are wide-ranging (from opera and classical to blues, folk, rock, and solo artists – remarkably to me, even some country). I have read so much about streaming music sources (Spotify, Pandora etc) and love the idea of having that as a cost effective way of building/accessing a music library, but (a) how much do those sources compromise on the recording quality, and (b) what is the best way to integrate those services into a decent home audio experience? I am also quite intrigued by the comeback of vinyl…perhaps I can add a turntable down the line. I want to begin building a music collection in a cost-effective way until I decide whether to add a turntable.

 2.      Thoughts on the NAD C515BEE CD player? Alternatives?

 3.      After deciding the best way to build my music sources (which I would really like to include streaming/cloud services), I assume my next decision is my amplifier. Thoughts on the NAD C316BEE and Marantz PM6004? Other options? And if I go with an integrated Amp, what is the best way to add a streaming source?

 4.      I was looking hard at the Polk RTi A3’s, but read so many raves about the Wharfedale 10.1’s. Then as I further considered it, if I place a pair of bookshelf speakers on stands, the footprint wouldn’t be very much bigger than say, the Magnepan MMGs. I do have space limitations, but would it make sense to go with the MMGs over higher-end bookshelf speakers that will be on speaker stands. Again, any thoughts on alternatives?

 5.      Since I do want to upgrade my movie viewing sound, can I integrate a system such as the one above into my video source, which primarily will be streaming Netflix and Amazon Prime? Or, should I just go for a modest soundbar? 

Again, many thanks for your input!

Drtrey3
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Welcome!

Great to have you here, what a cool thing you are doing! Pandora and such is a great way for hearing new music to purchase or to have music playing when I am doing something else. Even with the higher res option, you miss some music while being exposed to more artists. You can get a lot of music used, gently used vinyl and cds are not too dear and help you get going again!

I think either the NAD or Marantz would sound great. There are so many ways to stream and serve! I run Jriver through an old computer into my receiver and enjoy that a lot, but there are just so many options in this area you would do well to search around some more. The MMGs are killer speakers and you would enjoy them for decades!

Using the system you are talking about with 2 channel tv would be easy and a big upgrade from the tv speakers. I think a modest soundbar would sound quite modest compared to the speakers you are looking at, so I would play tv through the speakers. That is what I do.

So welcome, and you are headed the right way, and now hopefully some of our gear folks will give you lots more to think about! Just keep us posted.

 

Trey

Austin Bob
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Thanks Trey. Good to hear I'm

Thanks Trey. Good to hear I'm on the right track. I'm going to listen to the MMGs this week. Lucky to have some good audio shops here in Austin!

mrvco
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Over the last year I sold

Over the last year I sold most of my rig and am starting over, but this time I'm putting together a "budget" system to use as a baseline if I decide to get back into higher dollar components again.  I've also been doing a lot of research and experimentation with computer audio, while staying away from buying another CD / SACD player for now.  I did keep my Rega P3 turntable and NAD PP-2 phono pre from my old system.

I don't know whether there are any decent hi-fi dealers left in Austin, but everything within an hour or so of me is all  focused on "home theater" now, so I've been doing most of my shopping on-line.  Since there are no auditions when buying gear on-line, price-wise I've been doing my research and trying to purchase things that I'm confident that I can get my back out of if I don't like them.  If you're patient, you can find some excellent equipment for very reasonable prices on Audiogon (new, demo's and used) and Ebay (mostly used).  MusicDirect and AudioAdvisor also have solid deals on demo and open-box equipment.

So far I've spent half of what my last dedicated CD player cost and I'm VERY happy with the results (NAD C-372, NHT Absolute Tower Speakers, Music Hall dac15.2 and a pair of Rega RS-1's that I couldn't pass up).  In addition to spinning vinyl, I've been streaming audio from my Mac through an Airport Express to my DAC and have been very pleased with the results, however I've also been experimenting with a USB connection to the DAC as well.

Regarding the streaming services... for "music discovery", the quality is more than adequate, with some being better than others (the subscription plans from Pandora and MOG seem to deliver the highest streaming bit-rates).  Even the minute-and-a-half "preview" feature in the iTunes Store is pretty good for checking out new artists or rediscovering old ones.  If you find stuff that you actually want to "own", then you can order the CD and rip it yourself, buy it through iTunes or Amazon or if you find that the quality is worth the added expense, purchase "hi-rez" files from HDtracks.com, eClassical.com and others.

Good luck and have fun!

Austin Bob
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Thanks -- I haven't

Thanks -- I haven't considered used equipement but will start looking. Think I'll have more questions about streaming options - since I have a Roku devise, I can stream MOG (but not Spotify or AirPlay), but I am still a bit confused how these can be integrated into an amp like the  NAD or Marantz....

mrvco
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It depends a bit on your

It depends a bit on your computer setup.  I've had good luck streaming over my home wi-fi network to an Airport Express ($30 used on eBay) which is connected to an external DAC using an optical cable.  This works great if you're already using iTunes, otherwise there is an app called Airfoil that will let you chose the source app that gets streamed to the AE.

Austin Bob
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Auditioned this system from local dealer...

Found a local dealer only a few miles away -- they have an "entry level" system that I checked out. It sounded pretty good (especially because it's been so long since I've had music in my life), but have to say it got me excited about considering spending a bit more $ for a better system. 

Here's what they're offering for about $1000:

  1. NAD C515BEE CD player
  2. NAD C316BEE integrated amp
  3. PSB Alpha B1 speakers

I was pretty impressed by the sound, but was wondering:

  • (a) other speaker options -- these guys are really big on PSb's for bookshelfs. I was considering the MMGs, but think I'm going to go with bookshelfs due to space limitations in my apartment - any thoughts on the Monitor Audio Bronze BX2's (they dealer guy never heard of them, but I saw great reviews on other audio sites; or, perhaps B&W 685's, and I'm still wondering about the Polk RTi3's as well as other options...
  • (b) Crutchfield is offering Marantz PM 6004 amp at and CD 6004 for $1000 -- was wondering how that combo would stack up against the NAD's (I could purchase them from Crutchfield, audition and return them if I decide on the NADs).
  • The dealer dudes are also big on the Sonos ZP90 (now the Connect I believe) for integrating streaming music -- are there other options at or below that price point ($350) for my desire to stream MOG, Spotify, etc.? mrvco, your suggestion was great, but what about options to make a streaming device to make it a "permanent" part of my system? 

Thanks for any thoughts! 

commsysman
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SYSTEM

Some of those choices you are considering are not bad, but I think I can point you in a different direction and help you get a better result.

First, there is one amplifier that is IMO way better than the NAD you were checking out; it is the Music Hall A15.2, which you can get for only $499 from Music Direct. This is an outstanding bargain. It competes with other integrateds that cost around $1000.

It has 70 watts per channel, really excellent sound quality, and even has a built-in phono stage, which will save you money down the road if you get a turntable.

For CD player, the OPPO BDP-93, is $599, and is better-sounding than any other CD player at a comparable price. It also plays SACDs and DVDs and Bluray. It also has a built-in network streaming function, so you don't need to buy a separate adapter to do that! There is an excellent on-screen interface for audio and video setup and control, and you can hook an HDMI cable to your TV and analog outputs direct to your amplifier for audio only listening. It is available from Amazon.

The Monitor Audio Bronze BX2 speakers would be a very good choice; they have enough bass to make good front speakers, and are very clean and musical. Another good one is the PSB Image B6. Both of those are available with a 30-day return privilege from Audio Advisor. The PSB Alphas have very limited bass response, and would have to used with a subwoofer IMO.

I suggest that you get the BX2 speakers and the A15.2 amplifier and go from there. I think you will have the best sound for the money, and be quite satisfied. Then you can proceed with further choices.

Austin Bob
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Thanks - that system does

Thanks - that system does look excellent and a better bang for the money. I like that I can stream Pandora w/ the BDP-93 in addition to ability to play SACDs. Going to put in my order today, now need a media stand and have been looking on Amazon this morning. Any suggestions?

commsysman
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SYSTEM

I have the Tech-craft HBL-60, which has my Mitsubishi 60" monitor on top and room for 6 pieces of gear below on the two shelves.

It is all steel and glass, but they also make many units that are wood with a "furniture" look. Tech-craft has some excellent prices.

I had dealers try to sell me units for for $300-500 which were garbage. I only paid $139 plus shipping for my HBL-60, and it is very well made and strong.

Amazon has the HBL-60 for $125 plus shipping and the SWP-60 for $300 plus.

They have units in all sizes, for various needs. I suggest that you consider getting one bigger than you may need now, so that you wan't have to replace it if you go to a bigger monitor later. That also gives more room for equipment down below.

P.S.- If you get the Hbl-60 or something similar, it really is better to have a second person to help you with assembly. I did it alone, but the heavy tempered glass shelves are a bit much for one person and only 2 hands...lol. The assembly is simple and requires few tools, but it is best to go slow and read carefully.

Austin Bob
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Yes, I was thinking

Yes, I was thinking Tech-craft. Thanks again for your input -- I'm doing it today! This forum has been great for an old dude like me who has been (quite a) bit behind the times...

commsysman
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Well, I'm 68, so you got nothing on me...lol. I have been big into audio since I was in high school; older than dirt.

I just relocated to a smaller home a couple of years ago, and had to completely re-configure my audio and video systems into one and get smaller speakers etc.

I had a lot of really big speakers and cabinets and such at the old home that would not work here.

I'm glad i could be of some assistance; I like to share any information that might help.

Austin Bob
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Guess I'm still trying to get

Guess I'm still trying to get my head around being over 50, but my 79 year-old mother says time will start moving even faster...I downsized from a house a few years back and actually am enjoying a simpler lifestyle. 

One last question about the BDP-93 -- was just looking at the specs on their web site and compared it to the BDP-95 (twice as much $). The BDP-93 doesn't have a stereo DAC - it uses a 7.1 Cirrus Logic DAC. For music-only listening, would that be a signicant enough audio compromise for me to (re)consider an alternative given that it is highly unlikely that I'll ever have a 7.1 set-up. I like that it would be a single solution for my av and streaming objectives, but just wondering about the trade-offs on audio-only quality?  

commsysman
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OPPO

The BDP-95 is what I have.

It is a bit better-sounding, for CD and SACD, than my $6000 Ayre C5xe/MP player. They are both listed as A+ in Recommended Components.

At $1000, I think that it is better-sounding  than ANY other CD player on the market (except MAYBE some units costing over $10K).

If you can afford it, it is worth 3 or 4 times its price in my opinion.

The BDP-93 is very very good for its price, but the BDP-95 is the incredible one.

Austin Bob
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Thanks -- that's what I've

Thanks -- that's what I've read on a number of reviews, so looks like the winner. Again, thanks for the input - very helpful!

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