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buffheman
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Need a stereo and help

I just finished college and am trying to fill up my new apartment with the necessities, which of course includes a good home stereo. My budget is not huge and I don't consider myself any sort of an audiophile. I wasn't thinking of going component due to cost and the fact that I might not live here long. But basically I know nothing of stereos and was wondering if anyone knows of some good deals... maybe $300... maybe?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Need a stereo and help

$300?

For the whole thing?

BillB
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Re: Need a stereo and help

Consider the Audioengine 5. It's a pair of high quality speakers with a built-in amp. Has 2 inputs - can use them as computer speakers, iPod speakers, or hook to a CD player, etc. Can use them wirelessly with Apple Airport Express (or other such products). Check them out on the web. I think price is $350. Smaller model is Audioengine 2, for $200.

rvance
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Re: Need a stereo and help


Quote:
Consider the Audioengine 5. It's a pair of high quality speakers with a built-in amp. Has 2 inputs - can use them as computer speakers, iPod speakers, or hook to a CD player, etc. Can use them wirelessly with Apple Airport Express (or other such products). Check them out on the web. I think price is $350. Smaller model is Audioengine 2, for $200.

Good option ...or for $150 you could get a Monitor Audio iDeck from Music Direct or Audio Advisor. Its internal DAC bypasses the iPod's for better sound and you can mini-jack a portable CD player also. It has a nifty remote that mimics the iPod's functions. I have one out in my shop (1500 square feet) and it does great for what it is. Then start saving $$ for a real system because $300 is not a realistic starting point.

bobedaone
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Re: Need a stereo and help

That's an excellent suggestion on rvance's part. The Audioengines could be an attractive option, too.

$2-300 is around where speakers start getting listenable, but I don't think it's possible to swing an entire system on three bills. Come to the table with $7-800, then maybe we can talk.

Here are some possibilities:

-NAD C715 ($500) + Paradigm Atom Monitor ($250) or PSB Alpha B1 ($280)

-If you're looking for mini systems, consider offerings from brands with some audiophile "cred", like Denon or Onkyo.

If you're willing to consider separates, you may actually do better. An affordable receiver like the Harman Kardon HK-3480 ($200 at jr.com, possibly available for less elsewhere online) and Oppo's DV-980H paired with either of the above-mentioned speakers would have you out the gate for $650 plus cables.

If you're cool with one source, a small amplifier like this guy [ http://www.si5.com/products.php?pID=4046 ] or maybe this guy [ http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/trends/ta10.html ] might work well.

linden518
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Re: Need a stereo and help

Hey. You can do it. Where there's a will there's a way! Supposedly, this whole system set-up costs $250; I haven't heard it personally myself, but apparently, it's great according to the good folks over @ 6moons:

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/zigmahornet/zigmahornet.html

buffheman
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Re: Need a stereo and help

I realize $300 isn't much money... but I gotta make due with what I got. I don't mean to offend anyone here with my low budget. Thanks for all the options, I'll look into them.

What do you guys think about this? My apartment is pretty small, I think a mini system could fill it up.

http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=3649047

dcstep
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Re: Need a stereo and help

The Audioengine 2s or 5s will blow that mini-system away. I'm listening right now, as I "work", to the 2s, hearing some incredible piano sounds by Keith Jarrett. These AEs blow away the Bose speakers that they replaced in this computer-based system. Almost all those mini systems and low cost speakers add tizz to the highs and bloat the bass to grab you. On the AEs it's all accuracy.

Start with Audioengine and an iPod driven system, then keep upgrading as you have the money and/or inclination.

Dave

Jan Vigne
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Re: Need a stereo and help

The Hornets are a DIY project. They're not hard to build - I managed a pair in an afternoon without staining the cabinets - but not always the best recommendation for someone without proper tools. Also the Hornet drivers are in short supply and not always available from Dave Merrill. Otherwise, if those two issues don't bother you, the Hornets let some very nice music through with little intervention. They don't play at high levels and they won't do the last octave of bass.

The Sony PlayStation is not the easiest to manipulate without a video monitor connected to the system and not everyone agrees on its sonic value. They too are difficult to find and aren't worth repairing if they do break. Just throw it away and find another.

I would agree the T-amps are the best route to budget sound if the budget is that tight. The basic Sonic Impact T amp (http://www.parts-express.com/webpage.cfm?=&Webpage_ID=3&CAT_ID=43&Object...) is still a good value for the tight budget oriented system and isn't that far from the upgraded piece for the difference in price.

A pair of Best Buy house brand Insignia B211 speakers (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp;jsessionid=01FKOCLEYY5L1KC4D3GFA...) are one place to begin and offer good sound without spending much money. They have been covered in the DIY pages and several people have come up with cheap tweaks that do improve the speaker for pennies. I've also heard the low priced Sony's (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8289167&type=product&id=11...) and they make reasonably good sound for the price. They have clarity and are well balanced. They aren't the last word in speakers but they do less wrong and more right than probably they should at their price. No real bass though.

Sam Tellig wrote up a Sony DiscMan style CD player a few issues ago. It cost about $50. If you can live with one source - take the headphone output into the T-amp - this would keep you well under budget, use minumal space and not be horrible.

Otherwise, I would suggest you stay with a mini-system from either Onkyo, JVC or Denon. With this approach there's nowhere to go other than start over when you're ready for a better system. With the T-amp and so forth, you have upgradeability to some extent. None of these systems are going to play loud and still sound good if that's your goal.

dcstep
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Re: Need a stereo and help

Let me expand some. I'm now listening to LossLess iTunes through the AudioEngine 2s on my desk. IMHO, an iPod/AudioEngine combination will blow away any mini-system I've ever owned.

The quality of construction is first rate where those mini-systems, particularly the speakers border on trash. The bass is bloated and formless on those little systems, yet with the AEs it's complete, full and whole, without being artificially pumped up. There's just no comparison. If you've already got an iPod or iPhone, then the AE COMPLETES a very serviceable system. They're that good and come with the connectors to your iPod and/or computer. They also accept RCA connectors. It's really a super, well thought out product.

Dave

buffheman
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Re: Need a stereo and help

Wouldn't going through the Ipod make the quality worse? Plus my Ipod is small and I'd rather not deal with the hassle of updating it everytime I have a whim to listen to a different album. I don't plan on putting the stereo next to my computer either...

So, what if I got the Harman Kardon HK-3480 receiver to go with the AE2? Would that be a reasonable starting point from which I can upgrade later when I have the funds?

bobedaone
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Re: Need a stereo and help

If you get the AE2's, you don't need a receiver, as the speakers are powered. win

jackfish
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Re: Need a stereo and help

Here is a bare bones system:

OPPO DV-980H $181 delivered (refurbished $147 delivered)
Sherwood RX-4105 stereo receiver $105 delivered
Infinity Primus P152 bookshelf loudspeakers $145 delivered

$431 complete, better start saving your pennies.

dcstep
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Re: Need a stereo and help


Quote:
Wouldn't going through the Ipod make the quality worse? Plus my Ipod is small and I'd rather not deal with the hassle of updating it everytime I have a whim to listen to a different album. I don't plan on putting the stereo next to my computer either...

So, what if I got the Harman Kardon HK-3480 receiver to go with the AE2? Would that be a reasonable starting point from which I can upgrade later when I have the funds?

Worse than what, a receiver? I assumed that you already had an mp3 device. I don't consider an iPod a "high end" front-end source, but it's better than most receivers, by a long shot. Do you have a collection of CDs? If not, most people are NOT starting CD collections these days, instead they're downloading. Use a LossLess format and you'll get good results, exceeding FM radio broadcast and getting close to CD quality. You can also download hi rez onto your computer and play those back thru the AudioEngines, if the computer is nearby (yes, I know you said it's not) or you've got a wireless distribution system.

The sources people are using today are mp3 first, other download formats and CD bringing up the rear. (I still buy a lot of CDs because I do a lot of format shifting and much of what I buy is not available via download, but that's improving a lot). Analog is making a big comeback via vinyl. All of those formats will work with the powered AudioEngines.

Keep in mind, this is all in the context of the best you can get for around $300. There's much more potential, but this would be a respectable starting point.

BTW, the iPod classic, with 80GB capacity is an incredible storage and playback device. More and more people are making iPod-like devices their primary source. There a significant limits to the quality you can get via that path, but with the right speakers you can get a ligitimate first-step into audio.

Still IF (big if) you have a great FM station that you like, then a receiver or tuner can make some sense. You don't need a power section with the AudioEngines, but you'll need some source to feed your speakers. You can feed selfpowered speakers with a CD player, a tuner, a turntable (plus phono pre-amp) or an mp3 player. The choice is yours, just stay away from the $300 mini-systems if you care at all about the sound quality.

Dave

Jan Vigne
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Re: Need a stereo and help

IMO take the lowest priced Oppo player and combine it with the T-amp and the Insignias. It ain't great but it's a system you can expand as funds become available. The source will go a long way toward any mid-priced system and the T-amp and speaker can eventually become a secondary system somewhere else.

http://www.stereophile.com/budgetcomponents/1006sonic/index.html

"The Sonic Impact TA2024 Super T is not going to cause Krell or Halcro any sleepless nights, but it's good enough that it might cost you some snooze time as you stay up late playing records you haven't heard in a long time. If you're an old fart like me, it might reconnect you to the time when hi-fi was fun."

jackfish
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Re: Need a stereo and help

OPPO DV-980H $181 delivered
Sonic Impact T-Amp Tripath Audio Amplifier Generation Two $70 delivered
Insignia NS-B211 $97 delivered

$348

buffheman
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Re: Need a stereo and help

What about the AE2 and the Oppo player? I am still one of those guys who buys cds, btw. But that seems like a simple system, and I can just use the AE2 as my computer speakers when I upgrade my system.

Man this is tough stuff... there are so many options and I don't know half of the jargon that I'm reading.

dcstep
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Re: Need a stereo and help


Quote:
What about the AE2 and the Oppo player? I am still one of those guys who buys cds, btw. But that seems like a simple system, and I can just use the AE2 as my computer speakers when I upgrade my system.

Man this is tough stuff... there are so many options and I don't know half of the jargon that I'm reading.

You're getting up around $400 if you buy new, but the Oppo/AudioEngine would be a great starter. I use an Oppo in a $10,000+ system. I've never looked for a used Oppo, but you might find one used for $120 or so, with luck. If you can swing $500, then get the AudioEngine 5, otherwise stick with the 2.

Don't let your head hurt. Mull this over and make a decision after a few days of rolling around in it.

Sorry about any jargon.

Dave

Elk
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Re: Need a stereo and help


Quote:
What about the AE2 and the Oppo player?


Great idea!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Need a stereo and help


Quote:
What about the AE2 and the Oppo player? I am still one of those guys who buys cds, btw. But that seems like a simple system, and I can just use the AE2 as my computer speakers when I upgrade my system.

Man this is tough stuff...

You've settled on the Oppo so one third of the system is done. No sweat!

Between the SI T-amp/Insignias and the AE's you are essentially looking at a balance question. Neither amp is big enough to play loud and neither speaker can manage deep bass. The Insignia's are a bit warmer than the AE's from what I've heard and read by others. Neither system is the last word in anything. This is budget gear you're looking at. Go give the Insignia's a listen and decide of you like their sound. Either approach is workable. With the AE's you are tied to their amplifier as you upgrade. That might prove limiting or it might not. If your budget is super tight, then you need to consider what accessories will be required by either system that will raise your cost. How much length in interconencts and speaker cable will you require? The AE's come with some amount of both. How will you place the speakers? Is one easier to work with than the other?

Don't get a headache and don't stress. It's just hifi.

buffheman
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Re: Need a stereo and help

Ok I think I've changed my mind. I'm not going to worry about starting a home theater system. I'm going to want a separate stereo anyway, and that's all I need now. So I figure I'll just get the AE2 and a cd player. Any cd player recommendations?

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