Greetings to all, and thank you in advance to everyone who takes the time to think about my questions and respond.
Let me preface this by saying I HAVE nothing, and all I know I
There will be more folks who can help you much better tomorrow, so be sure to check back. I am studying for an engineering exam tonight so I cannot be of more help. I wish I had done the grad school thing I am a Cisco network engineer...and school never ends.
The speakers that you have chosen are fine for a start with. Work to build a stereo system to start, then as you add on to your equipment you can move the speakers that you initially purchase to surrounds.
PSB Alpha B1 Loudspeaker, Price $279/pairReviewed May 2007, Page 77http://www.psbspeakers.com/product.php?pId=69&sId=4
Epos ELS-3 loudspeaker, Price: $299/pair.http://www.stereophile.com/loudspeakerreviews/104epos/
Usher Audio Technology S-520 loudspeaker, Price: $375/pair.http://stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/1205usher/index.html
The monies spent on the speakers I take it are part of the $1,000 total outlay? I do suggest looking at the Stereophile recommended components list and see if you can find some good used equipment too. You have to be careful not to purchase something damaged because there isn't much room to work with for repairs.
When I was in college I first bought some Clestion 100s and a Sony receiver, which while not bad gave me some sunk non-recoverable costs. What you want to spend your money on are components that can be reused in another system. The Sony receiver in my case was a sunk cost but the speakers came in handy.
Your budget may change when you see what is available. The following are "close" to your targeted budget. I don't know what kind of wiggle room you have on the budget or I might recommend more, but you are better off spending a bit more going in to this because the returns will be there down the road.
There is an Oppo DV-970HD universal player reviewed in the May and June 2007 Stereophile, which just came out. It cost $149.00 even. It reviewed fairly well in a column but you need a video monitor to set it up. Oppo stuff has been reviewing quite well so I don't think you need to worry about the product too much. See May 2007 issue page 101.
Here is where I drilled down at Stereophile:http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/
Arcam Solo CD receiver, Price: $1599http://stereophile.com/cdplayers/705arcam/
Description: Single-box CD player, DAB/FM tuner, line-level preamplifier, and amplifier. CD D/A converter: 24-bit delta-digma. FM tuner sensitivity: 2
Quote:(ANY A**HOLE THINKING OF SAYING I SHOULD JUST BUY A BOOMBOX BECAUSE THAT
I would get something like one of these, Denon DRA-37, Denon DRA-297 or their equivalent for a stereo receiver. Denon, IMO, is a company with solid equipment, that isn't extravagantly priced.
I would use your Samsung for now. If you feel absolutely compelled to upgrade, which isn't necessarily a great idea right now with HD media on the cusp of potential ascendancy and with more gain to be accomplished in putting that money into the speaker choice IMO, get the Oppo DV-970HD since it is a universal player at least and has some of the best measured DVD playback out there.
I would order cheap wire from somewhere online like Blue Jeans Cable (which a lot of people seem to like on other fora because of the build quality and low pricing).
These choices, or similar ones price wise, will allow you to maximize your speaker capital, where, IMO, you will receive the most significant gains at your price point.
For speaker selection, I would do what you have already done and keep researching, using any extra capital saved to go a little higher up in speaker quality. So if you spent $300 on something like the Denon receiver, $50 on the cables, and use your Samsung, you have $650 left over for speakers. I would pick a large number of speakers in that price range that have received acclaim from credible sources and go out to stores and demo them in person with a selection of your favorite CDs for cross comparison purposes. Ultimately, only you are the important authority on what is the best sounding speaker for your money.
Also, don't be afraid to ask or even demand deals, as a large percentage of what you pay goes to the store (anywhere from 40% to 50% with audio gear usually), not to the company that makes the products. God knows, the sales people will likely try and be pushy with you anyway, you might as well push back or beat them to the punch.
I hope that helps, and welcome to the insanity.
BTW, if there is any way you can go up to the Usher V-601 ($700 MSRP) or V-602 ($1040 MSRP, but a floorstander) even, I would do so (like perhaps you have a friend who is throwing away their old stereo receiver and you don't mind temporarily using lamp cord and 10 dollar stereo interconnects from Best Buy). You can always change the other stuff out later on if it bothers you too much, just make sure the amp's ratings will work with the speaker's needs.
I would definitely go listen and see if you like how they sound in comparison to any previous choices you listed.
Hey, Mr. Goodbeer! Welcome to the Stereophile forum. We are equal opportunity enthusiasts here. I doubt you'll find anyone giving you a hard time for your $1000 budget. IN FACT, the "$1000 system" is a popular topic around here. It's a lot more fun to find great sound on a budget than when cost is no object. Our moderator, Stephen Meijas, enjoys this subject very much and will hopefully drop in. As for myself, I'm a college student, so your pursuit is mine!
The speakers you mentioned are great options. You may want to add the Paradigm Atom monitors ($249) to your list. I own a pair and like them a lot.
As for source components, I think you'll be better served by ditching your DVD player. Your music is only as good as what's sent to the amplifier. Showflash's suggestion of checking out the Oppo is a good one, based on what I've heard. It's more affordable than any "entry level" CD player, but is reported to have excellent audio performance, while also offering the video capability that you might not want to sacrifice.
Amplification is probably the most difficult decision you'll make. You have a lot of options! The first fork in the road is receiver versus integrated amplifier. The receiver, of course, offers a tuner. An integrated is essentially a receiver without the tuner, being a preamplifier and power amplifier in the same chassis (forgive me if you already knew that). If radio is important to you, you may want to go the receiver route. However, very good separate tuners can be had on the used market for not too much money (I love my NAD 4020A, $50-100), so definitely feel free to stay open to integrateds as well. Next, what sort of features are important to you? Remote? Headphone output? That will help you limit your alternatives. Some amplifiers have minimal features, their manufacturers choosing to put as much money as possible into the sound. For instance, the Rega Brio ($645) lacks a remote, headphone output, tone controls, and balance adjustment. I'd recommend it if those things don't matter. If you're willing to sacrifice a small amount of sound quality, you can afford yourself luxuries like remote control. NAD seems to be good at balancing features with sound, and I think the C325BEE ($400) is a great bargain. I've heard good things about the Music Hall a25.2 ($600). A couple others that might be in your range and are worth hearing are the Marantz PM7001 ($650) and Rotel RA-1062 ($700). Yeah, I know, I'm stretching it a bit!
Jim Tavegia (great guy, maybe he'll show) would point you to J+R for the Harman Kardon HK3380 receiver: http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=3964198
That seems like a fantastic deal to me, and it even has a phono input (as do the Rega, Marantz, and Rotel), in case you want to try out vinyl in the future.
I hope you can find some salespeople who make you feel comfortable, as I highly recommend auditioning anything that might interest you. (If you're in Michigan, I've been VERY satisfied with Overture Audio in Ann Arbor).
It might also be worth it to save a small amount of money for cables to connect all your stuff. Nothing fancy, just an upgrade over the cheapies that come with gear. The improved shielding, conductors, and terminations really can make a difference.
Good luck with putting your system together! Our more experienced members can offer more insight than I can, and I look forward to hearing what they have to say.
P.S. You're not crazy at all for sticking with two channels! We are Stereophile, after all.
The folks here have given you numerous, excellent recommendation, thus far. If you would consider a mini-system (no, not a "boombox") here are some marvelous sounding products:
http://usadenon.commodel D-F101S micro system
www.yamaha.commodel MCR-E600 mini system
www.onkyousa.commodel MC35TECH mini system
The prices range from $550 to $700. I have listened to all 3 and they all sound great. (I have the Yamaha in my office.)
There are other mini systems out there that are even better but I can't recall the model numbers at the moment. If you're interested let me know and I'll research it for you.
Oppo DV-970HD Universal Disk Player $150Harman Kardon HK-3480 Stereo Receiver $250Infinity Primus 360 Loudspeakers $300/pairInfinity PS-12 Subwoofer $275
Brett Johnson of Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity said, "The Primus 360s held their own in the stereo mode as full-range transducers, only struggling with the very lowest frequencies of the two-channel version of "Entre Amigos", a wonderful David Chesky recording featuring Rosa Pasoa and Bassist Ron Carter, with classic Latin acoustic accompaniment. With the PS-12 sub in the system, the 360s were at ease with a wide variety of program material".
You'ld be into a very good sounding system for $975 plus shipping. It would blow the pants off anything that's actually within your budget mentioned so far. You actually might be very satisfied with this system for many years to come.
For interconnects get Acoustic Research Performance Series, http://www.araccessories.com/interconnects_performance_audio.html , you can find them at Best Buy or online, won't break the bank and work very well. Any 16 gauge speaker wire will do.
There! You're all set! You had better not wait too long on the Infinity speakers I listed as they are fast approaching closeout and will be harder and harder to find in the future.
Quote:As for source components, I think you'll be better served by ditching your DVD player. Your music is only as good as what's sent to the amplifier. Showflash's suggestion of checking out the Oppo is a good one, based on what I've heard. It's more affordable than any "entry level" CD player, but is reported to have excellent audio performance, while also offering the video capability that you might not want to sacrifice.
I like many of your recommendations, especially the Harmon Kardon, as he most likely won't need the radio tuner and it will give him even more money to spend on the speakers. Also, Harmon Kardon makes great low priced equipment. One of my cars has a very nice Harmon Kardon system in it. No, I'm not being facetious... It really sounds incredible for a car system and has Logic 7 built into it as well!
I do want to ask you a couple of questions though, if you don't mind. Have you heard the Samsung DVD-R135 play music?
Certainly he will benefit from the Oppo (it has some of the best video playback out there, and there is no arguing that the price is a bargain), but considering his cost limitations, do you really think it would benefit the sound better than improving his speaker investment, all things considered (such as the receiver he will buy, etc)? I'm just wondering, as I would like to make sure he gets a system that serves his needs best for that budget. Oppo has a 30-day return policy I think, so I guess he could always buy it and return it within thirty days, but at that point he will have already sacrificed the better speakers in order to make the purchase and test it out. Though, I guess he could order it and test them both at the store where he locates the speakers he prefers the best and thenreturn it before buying the speakers if he so chooses.
I guess what I am also asking, is if you know for certain that the Oppo is that much better in comparison to the Samsung for CD playback, and if you know that at this level, the accompanying gear is going to allow that difference to shine through anyway?
Sorry if I am being a pain in the arse. I just really believe he is going to get much much more out of better speakers than source equipment at this level of spending. I base this on trips to Circuit City and Best Buy, where I demoed cheap equipment for my initial office computer surround system (before I decided to integrate it into my HT). Even with more expensive source equipment, the cheaper speakers had a much more profound effect on the sound than anything else in my experience.
Hi mr_goodbeer.Offering guidance is a huge part of this hobby, an aspect of this hobby that will keep it alive and strong. So, thanks for asking and welcome to the forum.
The $1000-system is always a popular topic. We had another recent thread here you might find informative.
So, let us know what you think so far. Thanks again.
Hi, Jeff. I've not heard the Samsung. I'm basing the recommendation primarily on the generalization that DVD players do not perform well with CDs. Also, you're not being a pain in the arse at all. I think discussing these things can only help mr. goodbeer. I used to be a "speaker guy". Recently, though, I upgraded my CD player and was BLOWN AWAY by the difference. My feeling is that the speakers in which he is interested and the corresponding amplification will be up to the task of rewarding him for source improvements. Your music can only be as good as the source. Everything else is designed to preserve the signal accurately. So, I think a source upgrade will be worth the cost. The smaller speakers, in my experience, cannot do low bass as well as floorstanders. Midrange and treble - providing the speaker is properly designed - can be astonishingly close to the performance of their big brothers. As an example, in Paradigm's Studio series, the drivers are identical in the 20, 40, 60, 100. The difference is primarily low frequency extension.The Oppo is a conservative recommendation on my part. I would be very confident in saying that the NAD C525BEE is worth checking out, but the $300 price tag might have scared him away. If I were building a system from scratch, I'd get the NAD and Atoms and put the rest into amplification. If he went for the NAD amplifier and CD player and put them with the Atoms, He'd come in under budget at $950, and it would sound fantastic. There I go, building hypothetical systems again.
Okay, I'm going off topic, but I'm a car guy. Which Bimmer do you drive? If you also have that Lotus, I'm jealous.
That's a very informative definition! I've always thought that "stereo" equated with "2 channels". You learn something new everyday.
Thanks for your questions, Jeff. It's obvious that you're genuinely curious and have goodbeer's best interests at heart.
Thanks to all for replying. I was thinking about it today at the office and while reading your posts, and these are my thoughts. Please let me know if my thinking is way off base!
An integrated amp is only more flexible in the sense that because the AM/FM tuner is not on board one can choose a component tuner for it. A stereo receiver is essentially an intergrated amp with a tuner on board, receivers will generally have all of the inputs that an intergrated amp does. However, an integrated amp may be of a better build quality than a receiver of the same price. Generally, you will find decent intergrated amps are going to cost more than that HK receiver.
You can't use the digital outputs of your DVD player without either, 1. a receiver/integrated amp that has a digital input and on board DAC (the HK3480 does not) or 2. a component DAC.
The Harman Kardon HK3480 stereo receiver has a preamp out so you can upgrade by adding a power amplifier in the future. Then you could upgrade with a better preamp after that when you were ready to get rid of the receiver. With a decent antenna you should get great FM reception from metro New York and Philadelphia stations.
I know it may be difficult to find a pair of Infinity Primus 360s to listen to but these loudspeakers would be well suited to your musical preferences and originally retailed for a $750 a pair. You can probably get an audition of the replacement Infinity Primus P362 somewhere which is little changed from the 360. The Infinity Primus 360 for $300 a pair is a great value. Add the PS-12 sub and there is very little for $575 that will touch them.
Welcome. You might try www.audioreview.com for specific models reviewed by users. Of the brands/models I'm familiar with, the reviews tend to be toward the glowing kind, but not surprisingly though. They like the stuff they own. You might even get some ideas of what to consider by browsing the reviews.