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the_kid_a
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Very Simple Setup?

I am moving into a small condo unit in a few months and starting to look at higher end audio stuff.  But keep in mind when I say higher end, I mean better than my current laptop to decent computer speakers setup.  I don't mean spending $5,000.

My current audio stuff (don't laugh, there is a reason why I want to upgrade) includes a NuForce uDAC2 and AudioEngine A2s.  I also use Grado SR-225i when I want to listen to music without disturbing others.

Because of the small space, I want to keep my setup relatively simple.  And owning my first home and paying it all by myself also means a small budget.  I was thinking the other day that the most simple system I can come up with is a CD player with powered speakers.  And if I want MP3 playback froma USB drive I can get a CD player that has that campability.

So I came up with this relatively simple setup:

Yamaha CD-S300 & AudioEngine A5+

My question is, am I getting even close to being in the high-end territory with this setup?  Or will I be better served with a slightly higher cost of:

Yamaha RS300 Stereo Receiver & Yamaha CD-S300 & PSB B5 Image speakers

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.  I have looked hard at used but everything available are items that are not reviewed much on the internet.

Bill B
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no laughing from me...

..especially because my stereo setup at my computer is the same, in that I also use the NuForce uDAC2 and audioengine A2s.  In my case I added a good subwoofer to that system and it rocks, it turns it into a very satisfying full-range system.

Defining high-end is a moving target, so some might consider even $5k insufficient for that (try adding up the cost of Michael Fremer's system, it might be close to a million).  So what you want is good sound, and you will have that with those components.  I don't know the Yamaha equipment but I'm sure it's sound.  I'm very familiar with the AudioEngine A5+ and they are very good sound, tremendous for the price.  The entire line of PSB speakers are well regarded so I expect the B5 are good altho I ain't heard em myself.

For a quite good CD player, that ALSO comes with very good blu-ray capability (and SACD and DVD-A and ability to play resolutions higher than CD from hi-rez downloads via USB and other ways, and networking/"smart tv" capability), i suggest the Oppo BDP-103.  It's $500.  Not cheap but well built and well reviewed. 

Demondog
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Close to High End?

Close to High End? Depends on who you ask from what I can tell, but the answer doesn't really matter. I'm sure my system would not be considered high end except by the truly impressionable, and I have spent $5,000. The thing is, musical satisfaction doesn't seem to be directly tied to the price of playback equipment.. From my observations, a person can get all the way to blissful happiness listening to entry level audio equipment, or on the other hand it seems there are people who have spent six figures, and are still seeking the component that will give them what they seek. This is what I tell myself anyway.

If CD's (or other disc formats) are your preferred source for now and the immediate future, then the Oppo BDP-103 (or BDP-105 for extra flexibility) is probably the best option to build around, for the price. And for speakers, I'm surprised more people don't use powered speakers because they're a great option for simple compact systems. There are some really nice sounding powered speakers for the future, as you get up the price range.

commsysman
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System Choices

I think that the Audioengine A2 speakers, for $200, actually sound better than the A5. I have them. Another excellent choice is the new PSB Alpha PS1, for $299.

I use them with a subwoofer, which you really need anyway. The Polk PSW-505 is perfect for this and can be had for around $200.

I suggest that you get the OPPO BDP-103 for your system. It has an amazing of features and functionality, which you can read up on at the OPPO website, and can function as the 'HUB" for your system. It is a bargain at $500.

I strongly recommend against any Yamaha product; the sound quality is poor IMO.

The Harmon-Kardon 3490 would be a much better choice for a receiver if you go that route, with a set of Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 speakers.

the_kid_a
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I am a bit surprised that you

I am a bit surprised that you said the A2s are better sounding than the A5s.  Are you referring to a direct comparison between the two?  Or did you mean that for extra money, the A5s don't sound that much better than the A2s?

All 3 of you recommended the OPPO 103.  It must be a very good product.  My concern with this is that I will be paying into features that I do not need from this unit.  The ability to play DVDs/Bluerays and SACDs are nice but I already have this expensive BlueRay player called the PS3.  :)

I really want to concentrate on audio only.  Although $500 for that many features is great, I just want to concentrate on audio only. 

Bill B
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IMHO

I own (and dig) both the a2 and the a5 and would recommend the a5 for a room size stereo. The 2 and 5 have the same tweeter. The 5 as u know has triple the power & more cabinet volume and bigger woofer & deeper bass. I also appreciate the extra connections,& the front mounted volume control & the remote on the 5+.

it's surprisingly hard to find a good inexpensive cd-only player these days. Check out models from marantz & NAD & emotiva around $300.  Cheaper ones like onkyo around 200 are ok.   Look for a digital output so u have the option to add an outboard DAC later if u want. 

(Edit:  any DVD player will also play cd's. Their disc loading time is slower than a cd-only player, which is a mild annoyance. But u can find lots of cheap DVD players for sale, for under $50 even, which would work. Sound quality will vary...)

commsysman
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Cd Player

The BDP-103 is an excellent-sounding CD player and DAC , and also has a remote volume control. But it is far far more than that! It has many capabilities which you WILL use.

This means that you can take its analog outputs direct to a pair of powered speakers and use its remote to control the volume of everything in your system, and select which source is to be used, which can all be connected to it by wi-fi or by CAT5 cable or USB.

It also can stream audio wirelessly from the internet or any computer or other device that links to your wi-fi router. It also has 3 USB inputs and other digital inputs and a built-in DAC. Just connect your computer and everything else to it and use IT as your system controller and hub for all video and audio needs.. It has Pandora and other internet music set up for direct access from its menu.

For $500, you get a lot of functionality and high-quality sound. It really does almost everything a receiver would do except for having no power amplifiers.

By adding 3 more powered speakers to it, you will have a 5-channel sound system. It can be set to decode and process almost any audio or video mode.

That is just scratching the surface of what it will do. For the complete story, go to the OPPO website and read its full list of features.

I consider the sound quality of the A2 to be better than that of the A5, with no qualifications.

xkaapie
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Choices abound

If you choose powered speakers, no amp will be necessary, spend the money on a complimentary sub

Setup 1: Audioengine A5 (loved their sound) Oppo BDP 103 & a well priced sub

Setup 2: Harmon-Kardon 3490 + Oppo BDP 103 + Boston Acoustics A26, or Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 or 10.1's

See my post: the quest for the best budget speaker under $500.

Once you decide on which route, powered speaker route, or amp+speakers, go to all the mail order websites and audition at home

Remember many of these sights have open box, or returned items that can save you a lot of moolah for other things, like a turntable!!!

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