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6175787220
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New Setup Help

Hi All,

Apologies in advance for the redundancy of this question, but I need help on a budget setup.  I would prefer advice from this readership as opposed to the Stereophile sister publication, Sound & Vision.

I would say I am looking at an all-in number of $1,000 to $1,500.  I would like an AVR, two bookshelf speakers for now, a TT, phono preamp and cables/wire.  Intended usage includes TV/movies and music of all genres via vinyl, CD, internet radio and my iPhone.  

What are the best pieces I can buy for my money in this range?  I hope this setup is not the last one I ever buy.  I appreciate good quality, and understand quality costs money.  But for now, this is what I have to work with and would rather not just throw away money at the big box stores.  

My thought process has been a good start might be the Pioneer SP-BS22-LRs or the PSB Alpha B1s.  I figured I would pick up the TT and the preamp from Needle Doctor (no idea which ones), but also clueless how to proceed on the AVR and connections.  One note on the TT, I would prefer something that can handle non-pristine records as opposed to being too delicate, if there is such a thing.

Thank you for the guidance.

commsysman
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SYSTEM CHOICES

First, I would suggest that you stay away from Yamaha, Sony, and Pioneer AVRs. They have degenerated into crappy-sounding trash in the last 2 or 3 years IMO.

I suggest the NAD T748, which will run you $599 from Audio Advisor and is a good unit with good sound quality. Beware of the phony inflated power specs of the Japanese AVR junk, they are intentionally deceptive. NAD gives honest RMS power specs for all channels driven, which the others don't even attempt to give; you can't compare them that way.

I recommend the Music Hall USB-1 turntable, because it is quite good for its price of $249 at Needle Doctor, and it has both an included phono preamp and a USB output for archiving music to your computer if desired.

For the speakers, I am going to shock you by recommending the Dayton B652 speakers which cost $40 per pair at Amazon or Parts Express. I have a set of these hooked to my TV and CD player in my den, driven by a Cambridge Audio 40 watt integrated amp, and the sound is very good. They are much better-sounding than the much more expensive Boston acoustics speakers they replaced. I don't think you can get better speakers for less than $250...or maybe more. The price is crazy low, but they are good-sounding speakers; what can I say? Stereophile did an article on them recently.

The Marantz CD-5004 is a VERY CD good player for the price of $349, at Audio Advisor, and I recommend it highly.

So that's a nice system for less than $1300.

When or if you want to spend some more money ($400-500) on speakers, I suggest that you look at the Focal or Wharfedale or PSB speakers.

6175787220
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Thank you for the reply. Any

Thank you for the reply.

Any other suggestions on the AVR piece of the equation?  Something that might integrate Airplay, Pandora and Sirius XM as well?

6175787220
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Any other ideas/help please?

Any other ideas/help please?

commsysman
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Airplay etc.

Check out the Denon AVR-1913.

It has all of those included.

 

 

6175787220 wrote:

Thank you for the reply.

Any other suggestions on the AVR piece of the equation?  Something that might integrate Airplay, Pandora and Sirius XM as well?

bierfeldt
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I have a Denon AVR 1912 - the predecessor of the 1913

If you have an apple based wireless network, the Denon would probably be great.  Otherwise you may want to think twcie. 

I hoped the 1913 solved some of the issues from the 1912 but based on what I have seen in the forums trying to solve my issues, it looks like the 1913 has some lingering problems.  Airplay is not very stable on the 1912 and I have had to reset the processor three times due to oddities with the Pandora and AirPlay functionality.  Basically the networking keeps freezing on me.  This is irritating because it wipes your Audyssey Settings and all you network info. 

Based on what I have read in product forums and feedback directly from Denon, the best solution is to implement an apple based network in my house.  I have $500 woth of Netgear routers and range extenders which work fine with my Marant units but they say they are not ideally compatible with Denon.  The only thing I can do is reset the processor and keep my fingers frossed that it will work this time or hope for a firmware update. 

In the same period I have two Marantz units, albeit much higher end units, and have literally no problem with them.  It is very clear that although they are the same company D&M Holdings, Denon is not Marantz.  You could consider the Marantz NR1604 which is $649 and 50w PC.  The next best item would be the SR5007 which is $849 and 100w PC.  You may be able to find it cheaper since it is discontinued and has been replaced by the SR5008.  Alternatively, you can get refurbs (if you are comfortable with that) much cheaper from Accesories4less which seems to be D&M's clearing house for refurbs.  I think a factory refurb with a 1 year warranty is $499 for the SR5007. 

Based on the balance of the system that commsysman outlined, with the SR5008 you would be $50 over a $1500 budget if you bought it new.  The best solution might be to consider the NAD receiver (which I think will sound better than either Marantz option) and a Marantz NA7004 Network player.  It has all of your networking wants (Pandora, Airplay, etc) and works really well.  I have one paired with a Rega Brio R integrated amp.  It can also serve as an outboard DAC for your CD player.  It is $399 at MusicDirect.  This would put you $200 over budget but your system sound fantastic.   

6175787220
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The NAD looks like a great

The NAD looks like a great option with the Marantz NA7004.  Also considering this ... If between the Denon AVR 1913 (@ $299 factory refurb or $399 new) and the Marantz 5007 @ $499 for a factory refurb, which would it be?

bierfeldt
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I think the Marantz will sound better

It is a tough question though because the Denon sounds much better than its price would suggest.  I probably would avoid the refurbed Denon, and would then consider your network and how nervous you are over a refurb vs new.  I made the same choice and opted for the Denon new and have regretted it ever since.  However, if I had an apple network I might be loving it.  

The other thing to note is that both are going to be pretty liberal in there power ratings.  Not like Yamaha or Sony but they are way more liberal than NAD.  It will likely make no difference with this first set of speakers but if you step up to something that is better sounding and potentially less efficient in the future, you may be disappointed, especially with the Denon.  

commsysman
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RECEIVERS

If you can't get a NAD, then Marantz would be my second choice.

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This is proving to be a very

This is proving to be a very difficult decision ...

Nothing is really future proof, so I get scared off spending all this money for something I will need to replace sooner rather than later. 

I auditioned the PSB Alpha B1s this past weekend and love them.  I am going to get them in color "sienna" which is really attractive.  So at least that's one decision out of the way.  And the good thing about those is I can use them as surrounds in the future when I upgrade my mains to floorstanding louspeakers and build a proper home theatre setup.  Does this seem like sound decision making?

I am going to go with the Music Hall USB-1, but it's backordered everywhere, but due in soon supposedly.

The lower priced Marantz options just don't seem to give me enough power, so I am leaning towards the Marantz SR5008, but that's $900, more than I wanted to spend, and the NAD/Marantz option is $1,000, a difference worth dismissing if I am going to end up spending $900 anyay.  One thing that concerns me, and I would be happy to be told this is irrelevant, it seems the NAD is light on surround sound formats?  Is the NAD something I can grow with, whether it's speaking about its amplification prowess or it's AV functionality?

So I'm not sure which way to go ... be it one of these two options, or something altogether different.

Any thoughts or other ideas would be sincerely appreciated.

Ariel Bitran
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Where are You Located?

sometimes Music Hall USB-1s can be found in Urban Outfitters/Record Stores/etc /// wherever they sell turntables from a box

bierfeldt
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Nothing is future proof but

The latest sorround formats are Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master.  Those are lossless 5.1 channel audio and are the formats that the latest Blurays are using though you will find many lingering in Dolby Digital.  Most HD networks are broadcast in Dolby Digital.  If you have those 3 then 99.9% of you video needs will be covered.  The NAD has those three so you will be fine.  I would also be shocked if it doesn't support ProLogic II wchich will convert a stereo signal to a surround signal. 

For some perspective, my Marantz processor (I have an AV7005) has like 20 different surround modes.  Other than when I set it up and listened to each for about 5 seconds, I have never used any of the other surround modes.  I have it on auto and the device chooses the highest quality format available on the media source.  So if a Bluray supports Dolby Digital and Dolby TrueHD, the default is to TrueHD.  I would think the NAD should do the same as that is pretty standard these days. 

I personally picked an AVR processor with separate Amp to give me the flexibility to make changes in the future when either new audio formats come out or I need more power because of speaker upgrades.  However, that is overall a much more expensive option with an entry point Marantz system costing you around $3500 which is the cheapest other than Emotiva and they would still be like $1500. 

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Marantz NA7004 or NAD C 446?

Marantz NA7004 or NAD C 446?

bierfeldt
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Now that they are the same price

I think most people would say it is a push however - couple things to consider.  The Marantz is Airplay enabled vs the NAD using UPnP which I believe is more felxible in its media format.  The Marantz has Digital inputs and will work as a nice outboard DAC where the NAD can't.  Finally, Marantz has this MDAX technology which will offer correction for compressed MP3's.  It is far from perfect but will sound better than listening to the compressed files. 

If you are streaming lossless files (ALAC or FLAC), don't use Airplay and don't care about DAC functionality, the NAD will be great.  Otherwise, go Marantz.  I will say this though, you must use the network standby function on the Marantz.  It keeps the device perpetually connected to your network.  It uses a touch more power, but this is the only way to get the device to run nicely.  It takes the Marantz a while to get an IP address and will be really irritating if you don't set it up that way. 

I presume this means you are going with the NAD receiver?

6175787220
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I haven't decided yet. I'm

I haven't decided yet. I'm hemming and hawing going back and forth between different things. Hopefully I can make some sort of decision soon! Thanks. 

bierfeldt
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A follow up on the Denon

I finally isolated the issue and in fairness to Denon, it was an Airplay incompatibility issue that Netgear is having.  (And D-Link). In fact, it was odd that my Marantz equipment was working, as it shouldn't have.  In the end, I for an AirPort Extreme and Express and the Denon works perfectly.  In that regard, it is a great value.  It's spec'd 90 watts are a bit liberal and it falls well short of the NAD or Marantz in sound quality, but is dramatically better the Sony, Yamaha, pioneer, etc.....

 

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