You are here

Log in or register to post comments
lipkuan3
lipkuan3's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2009 - 4:42am
Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Hi guys,
I'm new to HiFi stuff... Classical musics, opera and vocals are all my favourites. I'm moving into a new place soon and would like to buy my first ever HiFi set. My budget is from $10-15k... I came across PSB Synchrony Speakers with Musical Fidelity A5.5... can't tell how good it sounds at that price range as I'm new to it... Any one has any comments on this combination? My other questions are:
1. How much of fraction should I put into speakers and amp
2. How to choose what cables to use and at what cost based on the system (there are so many out there and I'm confused)
3. Any other combination suggestions?

Cheers,
Alex

dcstep
dcstep's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

You haven't mention one critical part, your source. Will this be server based or will you have a CDP or vinyl or what? Your spending enough money that you should include a high quality source as part of the strategy. You'll hear the problems with a $250 CDP with a system this good.

I think that up to 1/3 for speakers, 1/3 for source and 1/3 for power is about right in this range. Notice that I said "up to". You might spend $3000 on speakers, $2500 on amplification and $7000 on a source and another $2000 on cables, etc., or ANY combination of those. (You could spend $2,000 on your source, by running your iPod through a Wadia 170i and then into a Benchmark DAC).

There are a tremendous variety of ways you could go. You've identified two pretty good components for starters.

Dave

floydianpsyche
floydianpsyche's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Jun 11 2008 - 11:20am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Hey, first of all congratulations,this is awsome budget for a system. You have to answer a lot of other questions and make some decisions before starting to hunt for the components.
To answer your questions,
1) I would split the budget the following way, ~25% Source, ~25% Amps, ~30% speakers, ~20% accessories like room treatments, cables, racks etc, but the budget allocation will vary for different goals (Having more than one sources, leaving an upgrade path etc.).
2) I am not very familiar with the cable department, but once you fix your components I think your dealer can help you determine them, or you can even audition different cables from the dealer to find out what you like and if they make a difference.
3) Could you give the following details so that we would be able to help you better with other combinations

a) Are you planning to buy all new components or used is ok?
b) Are you planning to buy a system for this budget and get done with it or do you need upgrade paths?
c) How big is your listening room, is it dedicated for listening or is it a living room?
d) What is your listening habit, do you always listen at moderate levels or do you want to go real loud occasionally?
e) Are you going to set aside a small portion for room treatment from this budget?
f) Are you going to use this system for listening to music alone or do you also want to watch movies?
g) What are the sources you will be using among the following: CD, SACD, DVD, Blu-ray, Turntable, Tuner, Computer, Ipod ?
h) The dealers you have access to carry which brands? If you are in places like Chicago, New York the dealers carry almost all brands, but there are other places where they do not.

Do not get overwhelmed by reading a lot of reviews. Use the reviews/suggestions as a guide and trust your judgement.

linden518
linden518's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 12 2007 - 5:34am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Hi, Alex. Welcome to the forum. You must be very excited to finally get your 1st hi-fi set-up, and with your budget, you'll have a great system that you can cater to your preferences. I agree w/ dcstep that rule of 1/3 in terms of budget for speakers/amplification/source is a good place to start. But most likely, you'll end up deviating from this rule, which is perfectly fine. Some believe the source (CDP or turntable) should get more consideration, and others, amplification or loudspeakers. No camp is ultimately right... just let your ears guide you through the process.

I haven't heard PSB Synchrony speakers, but have heard fantastic things about them. They seem like a smart choice, too, according to the Stereophile review... I did hear the Musical Fidelity amp you're talking about, although I heard the A5 and not A5.5. I wrote it in a thread called "how a newbie got his 1st system" so you can look up the details but A5 was one of the first amps I auditioned, and I was not very impressed.

I think the first thing you should do is decide if you want to go with tube amplification or solid state amplification. Your loudspeaker choice will depend on this, because if you go with tubes, you'll most likely have to go with speakers with higher sensitivity rating/flat impedance. With SS, your speaker selection is considerably greater; for example, I wouldn't recommend tube amplification with PSB Synchrony floorstanders. With tubes, though, you might gain a more 'believable' sound, and generally more musical warmth, a kind of a liquid quality. With SS, you'll have more power, so you'll most likely get a better grip on the bass in your music (crucial in Wagner, Mahler, Richard Strauss, obviously). Your call... definitely audition both types of amplification and holler back. Some SS amplification brands I liked personally are Plinius (older models), Primare, Luxman and Accuphase. I like a lot of tube amplifiers, but I love and own a Leben, a Japanese brand. There are amps that are hybrids that use tubes in the pre-amp stage and solid state output. Pathos, an Italian company, makes really seductive-looking amps that are very musical. I was in love with Pathos Classic MKIII for a long time, came close to buying it... I heard it side by side with Musical Fidelity A5, and at least for me, it wasn't even close... Pathos was more musical.

So think about amplification first, so you can narrow your search for the speakers somewhat. Then we'll talk about source & I'm sure more members will chime in to help out. Cheers.

rmeyer52
rmeyer52's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: May 3 2007 - 12:49pm
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Congratulations on your first step towards years of enjoyment. The first step that I would take is to purchase Robert Harley's book on hi-fi which gives you great advice on where to allocate your money and what's really important.

The second step I would recommend is that you begin to make a list of components you might be interested in. Research them on the Web and read customer reviews to gain insights. Finally go to some hi-fi stores and start auditioning your components. Bring a couple of your favorite CD's with you so you can hear what the music you want to listen to will sound like on your system.

Finally when determining your system decide if where you are going to set it up. What is the size of the room? How far will speakers be from the wall?
In the end you can get great advice here from a number of people but it's your ears & satisfaction that are the keys to years of hi-fi enjoyment.

PS: If you don't have a subscription to Stereophile than sign up it's a great magazine to keep on touch.

PS2: Don't be surprised if after a couple of years you find yourself wanting to upgrade again. It happens to a lot of us here as our credit card companies are well aware

judicata
judicata's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 26 2008 - 11:55am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

And keep us updated! In return for advice, we like to enjoy experiences vicariously.

The advice you've gotten is fantastic so far - I have nothing of value to add.

andy_c
andy_c's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 25 2007 - 12:48pm
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Hi Alex,

My congratulations also. That's a great budget and you should be able to get a great system with that budget. But also, it is cause for caution because of the amount of money involved.

Regarding amps, the amplifier power you'll need will depend on speaker sensitivity. That's usually specified as the acoustic output in dB SPL (sound pressure level) at one meter distance from the speaker with an applied voltage of 2.83 Volts RMS. Numbers here run from the low 80s for insensitive speakers to well over 100 for horn-based and other high-sensitivity speakers. The dB nomenclature can be confusing. Each 10 dB difference is a factor of 10 in amplifier output power. So if you have one speaker with 86 dB sensitivity and another with 96 dB, the one with 96 dB sensitivity will reach the same maximum acoustic output with an amplifier of 1/10 the power needed for the other speaker with 86 dB sensitivity. This of course affects total system cost assuming everything else is equal. Bottom line: required amp power is strongly dependent on speaker sensitivity. Of course, amplifier power is just one aspect of your amplifier choice, but it is a cost driver.

When auditioning equipment, don't let the dealer pick the music. Bring your own music. Audiophile recordings will sound very good on just about any system, which is a mixed blessing. Very dull-sounding recordings will sound dull on nearly all systems. Now, here's an area in which I've been fooled. I tend to prefer speakers that are slightly on the polite side of neutral. Yet I had one such speaker system, and there was one particular recording that was simply an ear-bleeder on those speakers. I've since upgraded the speakers to ones that are slightly more bright than my earlier speakers, yet they handle this overly bright recording very gracefully. I'm not sure what happened here. My earlier, "polite" speakers had a slight high-end rolloff, yet sounded harsh on this particular recording. This may have been due to some sort of resonance that exaggerated the stridency of this recording, or maybe a distortion issue or something else. Based on this experience, here's what I'd suggest. With high-quality headphone listening or in someone else's system that you know is good, try to find a recording that you know is of pretty good quality, yet borders on the strident or maybe a little over the top. Include that recording in the material you bring to your audition. If the system reproduces that recording gracefully, then that's a good candidate. If it makes the recording into an ear-bleeder, then that may be a warning that the system could be very disappointing in the long term. Of course, if the recording is really bad, such that it sounds bad on any system, this will not be a good test. It's important to use one's judgment in selecting the recording. Limiting your musical selections to audiophile recordings is not a good plan though IMO, because you'll get a "sugar coated" perspective of the sound of the system.

lipkuan3
lipkuan3's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2009 - 4:42am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Really grateful! Thanks so much for the info...
Sorry, I left out my source. I was thinking of a CD player. See, I'm moving into a new place, a condo. I won't be having a luxury of an audio room. So, I am planning to put my stereo system in my living room which is about 12x15 feet. Someone told me that it's wasteful to spend that amount as I don't have a dedicated sound room, others suggests bookshelves instead of floorstand... The initial combination I was thinking earlier were MF A5.5 with the MF CD player, PSB synchrony vs B&W 805s(bookshelves)...
By the way, the store assistant advised me that it's better to use the CD player which comes together with the integrated amp, is that true? What is tube amp / SS amp, and integrated amp is under which one?
Well, I never thought of upgrading... plan to get the best at one go That's the reason for the that amount of budget! I know each components of the systems play their respective role, but can't help thinking the speakers are the most important part, thus should invest the most?Correct me if I'm wrong.

lipkuan3
lipkuan3's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2009 - 4:42am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Thanks Pradeep, below are my answers for your questions.
a) Are you planning to buy all new components or used is ok?
- planning to buy all new
b) Are you planning to buy a system for this budget and get done with it or do you need upgrade paths?
- so far hasn't thought of ugrading, was thinking to get done with a 'best' one at this price range. Future upgrade (if there is) won't be in another 5 years time...
c) How big is your listening room, is it dedicated for listening or is it a living room?
- 12x15 sq feet, it's a living room, no sound room.
d) What is your listening habit, do you always listen at moderate levels or do you want to go real loud occasionally?
- moderate to loud... guess both equally for frequency.
e) Are you going to set aside a small portion for room treatment from this budget?
- hasn't thought about room treatment cause I've got no idea what to do...
f) Are you going to use this system for listening to music alone or do you also want to watch movies?
- dedicated for only music
g) What are the sources you will be using among the following: CD, SACD, DVD, Blu-ray, Turntable, Tuner, Computer, Ipod ?
- my collections of musics are all classical, but in future may buy SACD...
h) The dealers you have access to carry which brands? If you are in places like Chicago, New York the dealers carry almost all brands, but there are other places where they do not.
- I'm staying in Singapore at the moment... don't have much varieties... the dealers usually have only few designated brands for the source, amp and speakers... difficult to compare as not many choices... It confuses me even more when I compare with the different systems!! That's the headache part...

floydianpsyche
floydianpsyche's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Jun 11 2008 - 11:20am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

This is awsome. Great budget for 2 channel cd system.

1) First I suggest you read about room acoustics. Ethan Winer from real traps has very good information.
"http://www.ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html".
2) Dont be carried away by what other people say, everyone has different priorities in life. You decide what is a comfortable budget for you.
3) Using a CDP and amp from the same brand is good because it is visually appealing and there is no matching issue, but it is not a necessity.
Many audiophiles have source and amplifiers from different manufacturers. In fact many high end amp manufacturers do not make a source component. I personally like sticking to the same brand for the aesthetics.
4) Usually You can use 'floor standers' or 'bookshelves with subwoofer'. I prefer floorstanders.
With your room size low frequency response will be a problem. If you do not want low frequency extension/ cannot treat your room for now (room treatments occupy space), you can just use bookshelves, later if you move to a bigger room/treat your room you can always add a subwoofer.
Make sure you audition floorstanders and bookshelves with and without subwoofers and understand the difference.
I think with good room treatment you can overcome the problems of your room. Room. I hope others more knowledgable in this area from the forum will chime in.
5) I am also thinking of putting together 10 to 15 k system, and I am considering PSB Synchrony ones and Harbeth SHL5s. But I think you can wait until you decide if it is going to be a floor stander or a book shelf.
6) As you are planning to hold on to your components for some time, I would suggest equally good source, amp and speakers. Your system will sound only as good as the weakest component in your chain.
7) With your room size I think even a 30wpc amp will sound real loud. If you will be moving to bigger rooms later, make sure you get some 150 to 200 wpc.
8) Dont feel bad that the dealers in your area have only a few choices. When they have few choices it is more probable that they have best reviewed value for money components. Actually it might reduce the headache of sifting through the plethora of brands.
9) Stick to well known brands available in your local area through a dealer. Later if you want to service/sell/upgrade your components it is always helpful if a dealer is available and the company is still making products. So make a survey of brands available and let us know, so that we will be able to suggest sytems from what is available.
10) Tube amps use vacuum tubes to amplify the signal. Tube amps sound warm and fluid like, many audiophiles prefer tube amps for that.Tube amps are limited in power compared to solid state amplifiers. In your budget you will be probably get tube amps for around 60wpc. Tubes have to be changed periodically based on manufacturers recommendation as their quality deteriorates with time. Solid state amps use semiconductor devices to amplify the signal. Solid state amps go higher in power, so you can get louder and with higher power you can get a tighter base. In your budget you can easily get a 200 WPC amp and there is no hassle of changing tubes.
11) Usually for amplification you have a pre amp (has input selector and volume control) and a power amp. preamp is to amplify a low-level signal from the cd player to line level, which is fed to a power amp. The line level input from the pre amp is amplified by the power amp and fed to the speakers. An integrated amplifier is one which has both the pre and power amplifier in one box. Usually these are more value for money as you are limiting to one box. The advantage of having seperate pre and power amplifier is that you can easily change the power amp section if you need more power. If you are not planning to upgrade later I would suggest you to stick with a integrated amplifier. Now there are completely solid state integrated amps, completely tube integrated amps or hybrid integrated amps which have a tube pre amp section and a solid state power amp section.
12) If you are even thinking about adding a turntable later, make sure you get an amplifier with a phono stage, so that you dont have to spend on that later separately.
13) If you are thinking about adding a ipod as a source later, there are some cd players with digital input which you can buy so that you dont have to buy a DAC later.

This is a lot of crammed up information, dont be overwhelmed. Spend time reading about these things patiently. Go to some dealer and ask all your questions.
For now I would suggest that you
(a) read about room acoustics,
(b)Audition so that you understand the difference between , (1) different speaker configurations, (2) Tube and Solid state sound,
(c) Research and let us know about the brands you have access to, so that we can help you.

Once you decide if you can treat your room or not, you can find out what speaker configuration is good for you. If you find that you have a preference for the tube/SS sound you would have narrowed down another area. And then you can start looking for particular components.

-Pradeep

lipkuan3
lipkuan3's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2009 - 4:42am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

After reading the room treatment website. I have to say that there is not much I can do to treat my living room (It's a NO NO for my wife to hang deflectors and diffusers all over the walls and ceiling... If that's the case, is it still worth spending so much money on the system as the sound quality will be greatly affected? *sigh*

floydianpsyche
floydianpsyche's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Jun 11 2008 - 11:20am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

It is not at all a problem Alex. In fact many people do listen without any room treatments. For ex Stephen Mejias from Stereophile hates room treatments and he does not have any in his room. Life is about compromises at different levels. Think about it this way: An awsome system might cost 10-15k but that does not mean people who buy 3k systems do not have a good time with their system, like wise dont think you will not enjoy your system if you dont treat your room. As you might have read small rooms have low frequency problems. So in your case I would suggest sticking to good bookshelf speakers. Later if you move to a bigger room you can add a subwoofer.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

OK, spending 15K in a 12 X 15 room, with CD as your source...

DeVore Gibbon 3XL

Stunningly musical and revealing and fit for your room!

Krell KAV 400xi integrated amp

EMM LBS CDSA digital front end.

I think I could talk myself into that combo.

lipkuan3
lipkuan3's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2009 - 4:42am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

The Krell KAV-400xi integrated amplifier has been discontinued, superseded by the lastest Krell S300i ! Latest review by Hifinews... happened to read it yesterday. Suprisingly one of the shop is selling at promotional price of S$3500 (USD 2350)! Going down to store to view later after my work!!

floydianpsyche
floydianpsyche's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Jun 11 2008 - 11:20am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

John Marks has recommended the following system as very good in the current issue of stereophile. The Luxman source and amp are also rated class A. See if you can give a listen.

Harbeth Compact 7ES-3
Luxman L505u Integrated Amp.
Luxman DU-50 Universal player.

commsysman
commsysman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 days 8 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

For the budget you mention;

1) Ayre C5-XE SACD/CD player. (!!!)- $6000

(The Ayre is rated A+, a classification that did not exist until it came along; enough said! Build your system around it, no matter what else you do)

2) Vandersteen 3A Signature speakers- $3800 (or 2CE Signature at $2500).

3) Ayre AX-7e Integrated Amplifier- $3500

In this price range, you would hard-pressed to put together a better-sounding system: true Class-A sound all the way except for the speakers (and to make a significant step up in the speaker department, you would probably need to spend $7000 to $20,000 for speakers alone).

Use BALANCED connections between the CD player and amplifier and cables become a NON-ISSUE!!!

Audioquest speaker cables have always worked perfectly for me; you can also make your own from #10 or #12 wire terminated with gold-plated spade lugs (Audioquest, Cardas).

(Audioquest Rocket 44 Speaker Cables; about $400)

When you have another $10K to spend for an upgrade later on, get, spend $6000 on a good preamp and $4000 or so on a power amp.

lipkuan3
lipkuan3's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2009 - 4:42am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Ok guys... I thought the rules were 1/3 for source, amp and speakers?? I've read numerous reviews regarding all the components. However I am puzzled... When you listen to a audio system, how do you know which character of the music is produced by say the CD player? or the amplifier? or the speakers? In addition, how do you determine which component that responsible for the good quality reproduction?? I've auditioned a few different systems (with all different combination) but I don't know what to look for and how to evaluate the 'good quality' of each component...

Would I be able to get a good system if I choose all the component with best reviews and put them together? One of the shop owner told me to do so... There were millions of combination out there!!! And where do I start??

smejias
smejias's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 5 days ago
Joined: Aug 25 2005 - 10:29am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system


Quote:
For ex Stephen Mejias from Stereophile hates room treatments and he does not have any in his room.

I wouldn't say I hate room treatments. They can be very effective. I just think they're unattractive and embarrassing, and I'd prefer to have rows and rows of vinyl LPs lining my walls.

But that's me. If I had $15k to spend on a system, I'd spend about half of it on records.

Lots of great recommendations here, Alex. You're going to have a lot of fun.

dcstep
dcstep's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Alex, the source is the most important component once you get into a truly high resolution system. If you budget were $5000 or $10000, then the 1/3 rule is more applicable because you'll be making compromises in every element. With a $15000 budget you can get very low compromises in the amp and speakers and spend the extra money on a higher quality source.

If you placed a very high priority on reproducing organ music accurately, then you might skew the extra money to speakers with deep bass response or adding a sub-woofer, rather than upgrading the source. I think that's a poor choice, unless that truly is your highest priority. Given your stated goals, then I'd put more into the source.

Dave

linden518
linden518's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 12 2007 - 5:34am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system


Quote:
Would I be able to get a good system if I choose all the component with best reviews and put them together? One of the shop owner told me to do so.


I vote for you finding a different dealer. Yikes. You can try to match a 6-figure sum amp with another 6-figure speakers, and it can sound TERRIBLE, if there's no system synergy. I totally understand why you might be confused, especially since most of audio journals review single component at a time, when most beginners buy the whole system.

That's why you need a good dealer b/c a good dealer will gauge your preferences and suggest good combinations to cater to your listening preferences. Since no dealer will have access to most of the components, you can also rely on forums and other audio-savvy friends for their input on system matching.

But under no circumstances should you buy the most-expensive-best-reviewed components and expect automatic sonic bliss. It can happen, but it's a crapshoot at best, and why gamble when you're putting down a significant chunk of your hard-earned $$$?

Have fun. The process of brainstorming and narrowing down the components can be exhausting and may incite brain aneurysm, but you learn TONS during the process which will make you more knowledgeable about gear, and can be a blast.

dcstep
dcstep's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system


Quote:

Would I be able to get a good system if I choose all the component with best reviews and put them together? One of the shop owner told me to do so... There were millions of combination out there!!! And where do I start??

That's really sad. I wouldn't trust that dealer. My amp and CD/SACD player had never been reviewed when I bought them. Stereophile will never review my CD/SACD player because it doesn't meet their criteria for a minimum number of dealers.

Seek a dealer with equipment that sounds good to you using music that you've provided. Try to find a couple of dealers and seek their advice, but always be skeptical and trust your own ears.

Where are you located? Maybe we can nominate some good dealers for you.

DAve

linden518
linden518's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 12 2007 - 5:34am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system


Quote:
I wouldn't say I hate room treatments. They can be very effective. I just think they're unattractive and embarrassing, and I'd prefer to have rows and rows of vinyl LPs lining my walls.


I'm of the same camp. No doubt the room is a significant part of the sound, but I'd rather use books and LPs, and other normal household items rather than live with 30 barren-looking diffusor panels. I want my listening room to FEEL like my room and not some show room in an audio salon. If my room really sounded that crappy, I'd much rather get an equalizer (*gasp*) than treatments.

andy19191
andy19191's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 25 2006 - 1:50am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

> And where do I start??

The most important question is where to look for guidance. The audiophile industry divorced itself from the mainstream of sound and audio about 30 years ago in order to develop a set of beliefs about sound, sound perception and the performance of audio hardware that are in conflict with scientific knowledge. You get to choose whether to follow the type of advice you are receiving here inside the audiophile world or the type of advice you would get from those involved with sound outside the audiophile world. The two will be rather different.

> Ok guys... I thought the rules were 1/3 for source, amp and speakers??

The rule for maximising sound quality is to pay sufficient to get a reliable and audibly neutral source and amplifier with the rest on speakers and room treatment which are not going to be audibly neutral. Obviously this may need modifying in the light of other constraints such as being acceptable to others.

> I've read numerous reviews regarding all the components. However I am puzzled...

Puzzled is a good sign. It suggests you are thinking rather than passively lapping it up. Stick with it and if $10-15k is a significant sum to you, I would strongly recommend not spending any of it until your puzzlement has gone away.

> When you listen to a audio system, how do you know which character of the music is produced by
> say the CD player? or the amplifier? or the speakers?

You ask the salesman to allow you to switch between level matched examples of CD players. Try to include a $100-200 consumer CD/DVD player from Pioneer or someone similar.

You ask the salesman to allow you to switch between level matched examples of amplifiers. Try to include a cheap consumer $250 amplifier.

You ask the salesman to do the same for speakers. This time you will hear clear and obvious differences but be aware that the room and the speakers position in the room will influence the sound you are hearing. If you listen in a large acoustically treated room this is not the sound you will hear in your small acoustically untreated room at home. I am afraid the latter is almost certain to be noticeably worse but your brain will adapt to it over time and it is likely to improve.

> In addition, how do you determine which component that responsible for the good quality
> reproduction??

At your price level, it will be the speakers and the room. If you can hear differences in the amplifiers and CDs I would suggest a degree of caution is in order.

> I've auditioned a few different systems (with all different combination) but I don't know
> what to look for and how to evaluate the 'good quality' of each component...

You evaluate by asking the salesman for the controller, sitting comfortably for an hour or so with a cup of coffee and switching back and forth between a set of level matched components. If you can find a dealer that is willing to let you do this for CDs, amplifiers and speakers then that is likely to be a dealer worth trusting (a bit) and buying from. In the city I am currently living I am aware of only one dealer that offers this facility.

> Would I be able to get a good system if I choose all the component with best reviews and put
> them together?

If the reviews are correct then this would be logical.

If you are going to listen in a smallish acoustically untreated living room then the sound quality achiebable is going to be limited by this. This does not mean that $14k speakers might not sound a bit better than $7k speakers but that the difference is going to be hard to justify when compared with what some room treatment would have achieved.

The reproduction of a full orchestra at reasonable volume levels can be challenging for many speaker/rooms which sound fine for small groups of instruments or electronic pop music. Don't be distracted by good sounding demonstrations of unrepresentative music and, once you have a goodish idea of what you want, being able to hear speakers in your own room before a purchase is probably something worth paying a bit for.

I would strongly recommend listening to speakers of a similar type to those used by engineers in the production of classical music. These can generally be heard in a music shop rather than an audiophile shop and are likely to offer significantly better value for money in terms of sound quality. However, they might be visually unacceptable.

lipkuan3
lipkuan3's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Mar 18 2009 - 4:42am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

One of the dealer offered me used amp and preamp by Mark Levinson with new CDP and speaker. Below are his quote:

"We have used unit of Mark Levinson ML38 preamplifier nett 4,000.00 (US$2666), Mark Levinson ML331 power amplifier nett S$4,500.00 (US$3000), T+A 1230R CD player nett S$3,800.00 ($2500) , Revel F12 floorstand speaker nett S$2,500.00 (US$1666). Whole system totaling at S$14,800.00 (US$10,000)(with Transparent cables and interconnects )."

I read some awful reviews of that particular amp and it seems like it's been around quite some time... The dealer is giving one year of warranty... Any advise / suggestions? Is this deal overpriced?

commsysman
commsysman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 days 8 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

There are some outstanding SACD/CD players for around $6000; if you don't want SACD playback, the Ayre C7 is excellent at $3000. You can't improve the sound that comes out of your source, so get the best you can afford, even if it is 40-50% of your cost. Make sure that the distortion (and there is always SOME, despite the ridiculous and misleading spec sheets of the equipment...lol) is as low as possible BEFORE the signal gets to your amplifier.

Garbage IN; garbage OUT!!!!

I am not familiar with T & A; I saw their gear on an Australian dealer's website; where is that company located?

You can't go wrong with any Mark Levinson gear I have ever listened to, but it may be more expensive than other very good gear. That system sounds like a very good system at a fair price, assuming that the CD player is as good as the rest of it (???).

Take some CDs you are familiar with and LISTEN to the whole system; if possible do it on trial in your home. That is what will make your decision a good one.

SAS Audio
SAS Audio's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Jun 6 2007 - 6:56am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Hi Alex,

I was wondering if you live near Detroit or can visit there? If so there is an AKfest ( akfest.com ) May 2-3, in which you can visit various manufacturers and listen to their products in room sizes similar to yours.

If I may suggest, if possible try the equipment in your home, on loan, so you can return it if it does not pan out. I guess what I am saying is take your time and don't let anyone rush you.

Just a thought.
Steve

ncdrawl
ncdrawl's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: Oct 18 2008 - 9:18am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

Singapore is a bit of a drive.


Quote:
Hi Alex,

I was wondering if you live near Detroit or can visit there? If so there is an AKfest ( akfest.com ) May 2-3, in which you can visit various manufacturers and listen to their products in room sizes similar to yours.

If I may suggest, if possible try the equipment in your home, on loan, so you can return it if it does not pan out. I guess what I am saying is take your time and don't let anyone rush you.

Just a thought.
Steve

andy19191
andy19191's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 25 2006 - 1:50am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

> Any advise / suggestions?

It is a very unbalanced system. You would be paying $10000 to get the performance of a sensibly chosen $2000 system. Any dealer that recommends spending 55% of your budget on a second hand amplifier and only 15% on the speakers would appear to be untrustworthy unless you asked him for recommendations along these lines.

I would strongly suggest you go and find a dealer that will let you hear the difference in performance between CD players, amplifiers and speakers so that you have something rational on which to base a decision.

> Is this deal overpriced?

I don't know the real price of the hardware in Singapore which may well be substantially more than one is used to seeing elsewhere. You are probably best asking this question locally.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system


Quote:
One of the dealer offered me used amp and preamp by Mark Levinson with new CDP and speaker. Below are his quote:

"We have used unit of Mark Levinson ML38 preamplifier nett 4,000.00 (US$2666), Mark Levinson ML331 power amplifier nett S$4,500.00 (US$3000), T+A 1230R CD player nett S$3,800.00 ($2500) , Revel F12 floorstand speaker nett S$2,500.00 (US$1666). Whole system totaling at S$14,800.00 (US$10,000)(with Transparent cables and interconnects )."

I read some awful reviews of that particular amp and it seems like it's been around quite some time... The dealer is giving one year of warranty... Any advise / suggestions? Is this deal overpriced?

The amp and preamp are GREAT, and the prices seem in line with USA/Europe.

The speakers are pretty good, and Kal Rubison reviewed them very favorably.

The amp should just smack those speakers around and control them utterly (I mean that in a good way,) but you need to decide if the speakers can do eveything you desire.

It may be a hell of a good match!

I am not familiar with the CD player, so no opinion there.

I agree with Commsysman about the importance of the quality of your front end, so be demanding there.

I would not worry about the price difference between the amp and speakers - it's up to your ears.

dcstep
dcstep's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: Seeking advice for $10-15k audio system

I've heard that German Titts & Ass (T+A) CDP and it's good for that price range. It blew away a Primare and a low end Marantz that was in the same room, but doesn't match the high end Marantz and much more expensive players, of course.

Dave

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading