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kdad92
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true entry level advice

hi,

i have been research entry level hifi for a month now. time for advice as purchase time is drawing near. i am having trouble truly understanding the basic difference between receivers and integrated amps. i am not rich and im not and AUDIOPHILE per se. i do enjoy quality and clarity. up until now, my stereo experience has been composed of mini systems, mp3 players, and i did own a sony rack system about 20 years ago. i dont think i have ever own a stereo where u wouldn't hear static at half volume. i am at an age where i wanna treat myself an invest in a little quality. i wanna experience my music not just listen to it. i looked at hk3490 as it has digital inputs and gets good reviews. it also boasts 120 wattsx2. i looked at integrateds like the pm5004 from marantz, azur 550 from CA, and the 315bee3 from nad. all are around 40 wattsx2. i dont get the huge wattage disparity? can u help me understand? i havent read alot about building a system around a receiver so that must tell me something. i use my pc a lot so the digital inputs interested me. but it's no deal breaker. as u can no doubt tell, my quality desires have a price range lol. i would love to stay around 500.00 for my amp/receiver. as i stated. NOT RICH. i would go a little higher and maybe start off with cheaper speakers like the paradigm atom's to buy a better unit. and just upgrade my speakers later. i hear the atom's are really good for the price. i would like to eventually pick up a pair of studio 10's. and add a powered sub for the low's. i have read a few places that certain speakers pair well with certain amps. i.e. b&w with rotel. is this true? okies. that's it in a nutshell. any advice would be greatly appreciated. i need advice on an entry level amp/receiver and opinions on the studio 10's or advice on a better pair of bookshelves. tyvm for listening and helping. 

jackfish
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Receivers usually have a tuner, integrated amps don't.

The integrated amplifiers you cite are a slight step up in quality from the HK3490 with a significant step up in price.  The HK3490 is a competent piece.  I'd spend more on better speakers.  If you can, listen before you buy.  Good Luck!

commsysman
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New System

First of all, an integrated amplifier just has a voltage amplifier stage with input switching or "preamp" combined with two power amplifiers. A receiver also has a tuner of some sort built in.

A stereo receiver just has two channels, but most receivers on the market now are "Home Theatre" receivers which have 5 or 7 channels of amplification plus a tuner plus many many video switching or internet connectivity features. Most of them also have room correction software built-in to make it possible to balance out the speakers for the room acoustics.

The amplifier power is a major cost factor because more amplifier power capability requires not only higher-current components, but bigger power-supply components, such as transformer and capacitors, which increase the cost a lot. The amplifier SOUND QUALITY is determined by careful engineering including the choice of better-quality components such as better coupling capacitors, low-noise resistors, etc.

Most people want around 65 to 100 watts per channel, or more, but you may not need more than 40 watts, if (A), you are not going to listen at real loud levels and (B), you choose speakers that are relatively efficient so that they do not need so much power to drive them.

In general, if you are going to go with a lower-power amplifier, it is best to get speakers that are rated for an efficiency  of 88db/watt or higher. The rating is based on a standard measurement of the sound level in db that is measured 1 meter in front of the speaker when a signal tone is applied to the speaker with one watt of power. Each 3db increase represents a doubling of power

I would recommend that you get the Cambridge 650A Integrated Amplifier from Audio Advisor. This is an excellent amplifier with 75 watts per channel, which is plenty for 95% of the speakers out there; all but the least efficient speakers (85db/w or lower). The MSRP is $779, but Audio Advisor has dropped the price to $500 on their current stock, which suggests that they may be coming out with a new model; that makes it a fantastic deal until they run out of stock. I would recommend it at the regular price, but for $500, it's a steal!

The Monitor Audio M6 tower speakers are also a very good speaker for a very good price; $650/pair.

I love my PSB Image T6 tower speakers, which are excellent, but they are $1300/pair.

Those are both speakers I can recommend, depending on what you want to spend.

If you need to use bookshelf speakers in your room rather than floor-standing models, the PSB Image B5 would be a very good choice for $450/pair or the PSB Alpha B1 for $300/pair.  For bookshelf speakers you may want to add a subwoofer. The Mordaunt-Short Carnival 9 is a good choice for $450.

All of the above are available to look at on the Audio Advisor website. I have done business with them many times because I have no dealers here and they give a 30-day trial period with full refund and no BS. I recommend them as good to do business with; no hassles.

 

 

hi,

i have been research entry level hifi for a month now. time for advice as purchase time is drawing near. i am having trouble truly understanding the basic difference between receivers and integrated amps. i am not rich and im not and AUDIOPHILE per se. i do enjoy quality and clarity. up until now, my stereo experience has been composed of mini systems, mp3 players, and i did own a sony rack system about 20 years ago. i dont think i have ever own a stereo where u wouldn't hear static at half volume. i am at an age where i wanna treat myself an invest in a little quality. i wanna experience my music not just listen to it. i looked at hk3490 as it has digital inputs and gets good reviews. it also boasts 120 wattsx2. i looked at integrateds like the pm5004 from marantz, azur 550 from CA, and the 315bee3 from nad. all are around 40 wattsx2. i dont get the huge wattage disparity? can u help me understand? i havent read alot about building a system around a receiver so that must tell me something. i use my pc a lot so the digital inputs interested me. but it's no deal breaker. as u can no doubt tell, my quality desires have a price range lol. i would love to stay around 500.00 for my amp/receiver. as i stated. NOT RICH. i would go a little higher and maybe start off with cheaper speakers like the paradigm atom's to buy a better unit. and just upgrade my speakers later. i hear the atom's are really good for the price. i would like to eventually pick up a pair of studio 10's. and add a powered sub for the low's. i have read a few places that certain speakers pair well with certain amps. i.e. b&w with rotel. is this true? okies. that's it in a nutshell. any advice would be greatly appreciated. i need advice on an entry level amp/receiver and opinions on the studio 10's or advice on a better pair of bookshelves. tyvm for listening and helping. 

[/quote]

hcsunshine
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for kdad92

an integrated amp is just a receiver without the tuner (or radio). i would buy an nad integrated amp. you'll never go wrong. you can get the c 356bee at 80 watts per channel, but really sounds like 100 watts per channel, for 800 dollars. if you can't afford that the nad c 326bee integrated amp is 50 watts per channel probably for 500 dollars.  for speakers you're on your own. hope this helps

commsysman
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NAD 356BEE

I would strongly advise against the NAD 356 BEE. I have a 326BEE which I use in my den at house #1 in the desert, and it sounds much better than the 356BEE.

I made the mistake of buying the 356BEE, thinking it would be better than the 326, for my A/V system at my city home, and it has very strange poorly defined bass and just does not sound as good as the 326. I have no idea why it is not that good, but my wife and I both found it quite lacking in listenability after a month or two. The midrange is pretty clean but not the bass or highs.

But if you think YOU might like the 356, I will make you a hell of a deal; $450; like new; only used for 6 months...lol.  I replaced it with the Musical Fidelity M3i, which is a gem; a wonderful-sounding amplifier!!! My city A/V system is now quite excellent.

Actually, though, the Cambridge Audio A650 is probably better-sounding than any of the NAD amps under $1000, and it is on sale for $500 now at Audio Advisor.

FYI; I was and am using the above amps with PSB Image T6 tower speakers, which are very very good.

hcsunshine
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hey commsysman

i wonder how the cambridge audio650a would stack up against the nad c352? are you familiar with that nad amp? i have the c352 and am pleased with it, but if the cambridge audio piece would beat it then i could be swayed. anybody?

poconnor
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More entry level advice

I have recently purchased a NAD c 326 bee and a set of PSB image B6's, and am interested in buying a CD player or DAC. I currently am playing CDs on a cheap Sony DVD player. What should be my next purchase?

Stephen Mejias
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Joined: Nov 7 2010 - 3:35pm
NAD

poconnor wrote:

I have recently purchased a NAD c 326 bee and a set of PSB image B6's, and am interested in buying a CD player or DAC. I currently am playing CDs on a cheap Sony DVD player. What should be my next purchase?

If you're happy with your NAD amp and PSB speakers, why not add the matching NAD CD player?

commsysman
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SYSTEM CHOICES

THe speakers and amplifier you have are a very good combination; they should make some nice sounds.

I would suggest that you go to the OPPO website and purchase an OPPO BDP-103.

It is only $499, and I don't think you can buy anything alse that will sound as good for CD or SACD playback for less than $800 or so. It is very good (and plays DVD and Bluray also).

Somveer
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Very confused: HK 3490 vs NAD 326BEE

Hi,

Am new to this forum, and found the resources very very helpful and easy to use; congratulations on a wonderfully moderated website. 

I have recently moved to NYC and have had to leave my modest setup back home. Just wanted to look at investing in a new system.

Looking at the:

  1. NAD 326BEE or the HK 3490
  2. PSB ALPHA 1 or the wharfdale (10.1diamond)
  3. Rega RP 1 or (a cheaper vinyl player and a decent CD + a good IPOD connector; should cost me the same)

Total startup budget of about 1200 USD. 

Any recomendations?

Thanks, Somveer

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