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p.luik
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Need Advice for New Digital Set up

I am a college student who is just recently getting interested in hi-fi audio equipment. I dont have a job at the moment, so I am on a very tight budget. I need help finding a system that will sound great for less than $500. Is this possible? I plan on playing Apple Lossless music out of my PowerBook G4. At the moment, I am just looking for a way to play music through some bookshelf speakers at my desk. Im sure this would require an amplifier, and probably a receiver. If I could get a USB connected DAC, that would be great, but I dont think that will happen with my budget. I am willing to go used. I have a lot of ideas to expand, but at the moment, all I need is to get a good sound out of my computer to some ~$200/pr. speakers. Which speakers should I try? Which amps would match these speakers?

I listen to alternative, classical, folk, hip-hop/rap, indie, reggae, and rock; pretty much everything, based on my mood. I realize that I wont be able to get the highest quality of equipment with my budget, but I am willing to expand as my income allows.

piinob
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

Just a suggestion. You could get a T-Amp for about 65.00, (google T-amp) and a pair of Paradigm Atoms or the like for about 325.00. As for a DAC, you might watch Ebay for a used one. They routinely appear there. All for less than 500.00. Of course this assumes that you already have the computer.
I bought a Klipsch 5.1 computer speaker system for 264.00 new in the box from e-bay that is self powered. It will make better sound than I ever expected.
I am sure some of the folks here have some good ideas for you also.

p.luik
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

thanks for the quick reply. i do have the computer. i was just looking at some <$500 speakers in the reviews section of the site, and the atom monitors came up. theres a dealer here in my town, so i think ill go there tomorrow and see if i can audition them. do the atoms have enough bass for listening to hip-hop/rap at decently loud volumes? im trying to host a concert, but i dont want to be limited so much, or have to turn down the bass when i want to turn up my system.
I was also looking for more power from an amplifier. the atoms handle up to 80W, so i was looking for something around the lines of 50-75 wpc in an amplifier.

piinob
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

The Klipsch set up will do it. The Sub has a very powerful, (for the price) amp built in to it besides the amps for the rest of the speakers. I am at work right now, but tomorrow I will get you the model#. It is a very impressive sound for the price.

piinob
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

You might also look on Audiogon.com. There are several solid state amps in your price range listed there. I have had good luck with gear I bought from there.

p.luik
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up


Quote:
The Klipsch set up will do it. The Sub has a very powerful, (for the price) amp built in to it besides the amps for the rest of the speakers. I am at work right now, but tomorrow I will get you the model#. It is a very impressive sound for the price.

i am not looking for a multimedia speaker system. i currently have the M10 system from Swans, which works fine for playing mp3s and the occasional game. i am looking for an audiophile grade system that i can eventually expand to include a DAC, turntable, sacd player, receiver, pre amp, amp, floor-standing speakers, maybe a sub.

ive sort of settled on either Paradigm Atom Monitors or the PSB Alhpa B1 loudspeakers, so im just trying to find an amplifier for <$500 (yes, my budget has expanded a little).

bobedaone
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

The Atoms do many things well, but bass is not their forte. Loud rap? nope. You could always add a sub, though. You'd have to step up to something like the Monitor 9 ($950) before they start rocking the house. You can have a lot more bass than the Atoms for not much money, but the bass-heavy Best Buy cheapies sound like junk, imho.

Anyway, good luck, and it's always encouraging to see more young blood around here!

p.luik
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

so what would you suggest for an amp if im going to get the atoms? what would you suggest for a sub to use with the atoms? i would like an amp that could handle the sub and the atoms now....

bobedaone
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

You can find Harman/Kardon stereo receivers for cheap (~$200) that should do everything you might require.

NAD makes excellent budget equipment, and you could find a great used amp or receiver for a song. NAD also pairs very well with Paradigm. The somewhat newer amps also have a "soft clipping" circuit that keeps tabs on distortion when the amp is overdriven, saving the speakers. That could come in handy for (loud) parties.

bobedaone
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

For a sub, you might have a look at Paradigm's own, or others from the likes of Aperion, Outlaw, or SVS.

p.luik
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

Im thinking of going with the NAD C325BEE Stereo Integrated Amplifier. It seems to be a perfect power match for the Apollo monitors. Does this seem to be a suitable mate for the monitors? I havent started to look for a sub yet, Ill do that later tonight (college kids dont need sleep )

andy19191
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

> I need help finding a system that will sound great for less than $500. Is this possible?

Yes you can get really quite good sound quality these days with a bit of care.

> At the moment, I am just looking for a way to play music through some bookshelf speakers
> at my desk. Im sure this would require an amplifier, and probably a receiver.

No. The best sound quality for the money will almost certainly be obtained with active monitors from a music shop. However, you may well have other requirements that more highly weight other solutions. You are unlikely to get this advice from the audiophiles here (i.e. that those making music are more interested in real sound quality for the money) but it is easy enough to pop along to a music shop and have listen if you think it just might be true.

> If I could get a USB connected DAC, that would be great, but I dont think that will
> happen with my budget.

A reasonable USB DAC starts at about $30 which would fit with your budget if there was a need to buy one but, unless the DAC in your computer is broken in some way, it is hard to see a case for buying one given your current situation and budget.

> I am willing to go used.

There is always risk attached to buying used and if you are looking for items for which there is a demand ebay has driven up the second hand prices to levels where it rarely makes much sense. On the other hand, if you are looking for items for which there is little demand then the opposite applies. The problem is being able to distinguish between what is cheap because it is poor at doing its job and what is cheap because it is unfashionable but is actually good at doing the job you require. This of course requires knowledge to go against the herd and get it right (it is easy enough to go against the herd and get it wrong).

> do the atoms have enough bass for listening to hip-hop/rap at decently loud volumes?

No.

> I was also looking for more power from an amplifier. the atoms handle up to 80W, so i
> was looking for something around the lines of 50-75 wpc in an amplifier.

If you are interested in sound quality then what you want from an amplifier is that it can deliver short bursts of power in a linear manner without clipping/distorting. This is a function of how loud you want and the efficiency of the speakers. The rated power on speakers is not a particularly useful measure of the amplifier power required.

> i am looking for an audiophile grade system that i can eventually expand to include a
> DAC, turntable, sacd player, receiver, pre amp, amp, floor-standing speakers, maybe a
> sub.

Hmmm audiophile grade. I wonder what you are hanging on that?

> i would like an amp that could handle the sub and the atoms now....

A passive sub makes little sense because the amplifier driving it will be expensively designed for 2 channels, high performance, high power from 20-20kHz.

scott1krr
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

NAD makes a great product. they have a good deal of dynamic headroom so they usually play louder than the wattage rating would indicate. I have the C352 and for the money it is very tough to beat.

have you thought about just upgrading to an audiophile grade sound card like the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 or M-Audio Audiophile 192. both are less than $200 and have excellent performance. I have the 192 and it has worked very well for me. the noise floor on the card is amazingly low.

Scott

smejias
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up


Quote:
I need help finding a system that will sound great for less than $500. Is this possible? I plan on playing Apple Lossless music out of my PowerBook G4. At the moment, I am just looking for a way to play music through some bookshelf speakers at my desk. Im sure this would require an amplifier, and probably a receiver.

I don't want to complicate things, but as I read your post, another option came to mind: Audioengine's "2" powered desktop speakers. These, I think, would work wonderfully for now (until you're ready to put together a larger system) if you're just looking to play beautiful-sounding music through your computer at your desk.

That said, I'm also a fan of the PSBs and Paradigms. Whichever way you go, you're certainly moving towards some great sounding music. Good luck and have fun!

piinob
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up

I knew these guys would have some good thoughts for you. I don't use the Klipsch 5.1 for surround myself. I use it in the garage with my MP3. I only use two of the surround speakers and the powered sub. But that is not what you want. Good luck and enjoy!

CharlyD
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Re: Need Advice for New Digital Set up


Quote:
I plan on playing Apple Lossless music out of my PowerBook G4... If I could get a USB connected DAC, that would be great, but I dont think that will happen with my budget.


The E-MU 0202 USB 2.0 Audio Interface is an external DAC that is compatible with your PowerBook, has excellent performance and can be had for around $100. A very good review (with measurements) of this device may be found here. This device will allow pristine playback of high-definition audio (> 44.1kHz/16-bit) that is becoming increasingly available for downloads.

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