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giganova
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2-Channel System for $3,000

Hi all --

New to the forum, hi everyone!

I've been frustrated by the lack of a good audio system my entire life, but now that I am building a new house, this is my chance to get the audio system I always wanted. Here is what I have in mind:

Great sounding 2-channel system for two floor speakers in white finish. My budget maxes out at $3k. I'm not interested in 5.2, 7.2, etc, a great sounding stereo system is all I want. The room will be an open 15x30 feet loft-type area.

So my wife and I went to Magnolia and listed to a few speakers, all powered by an expensive MacIntosh. First in-ceiling speakers, sounded like crap, even the most expensive ones. Next in-wall speakers, slightly better but still lacking. Bookshelf speakers sounded a lot better, but when we listed to floor speakers my wife and I immediately knew that this is what we want.

So we listen to tons of speakers, going from cheap to expensive, and when they turned on the Bowers & Wilkins 603 S2 Anniversary edition, my wife and I immediately looked at each other and said simultaneously "Wow!" Things got even better with more expensive B&W 702 S3 (fantastic), Elac FS 409 (amazing), etc, but we quickly went into the "too expensive territory and stopped there.

No clue what integrated amp I should get. Maybe a Marantz or Rotel??

Would be happy to hear recommendations, thanks!

Dorsia777
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Hello,

Hello, are you saying all in 3 grand? Including speaker cables, other wiring, the amp and speakers?

Don’t overlook the benefits of good speaker placement and quality shelving (aka not ikea).

giganova
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$3k max for a pair of floor

$3k max for a pair of floor standing speakers and amp.

Dorsia777
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Is the white finish…

Is the white finish a non-negotiable? What about a nice high gloss back or a wood grain?

Lastly, how are you playing the majority of your music? Streaming, vinyl, cds?

giganova
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Yeah, wife insists on white

Yeah, wife insists on white or light brown speakers, non-negotiable. She's the boss ;-)

I'll be mostly streaming music from my iPhone with Airplay or a dedicated music server through CAT6 ethernet network.

Dorsia777
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All good!

Let me do some homework! Truth be told…this will really come down to your personal choices in terms of sound quality and personal preference. Whatever recommendation I make I’d still strongly urge you to demo them yourself to get an idea of what you like or don’t like about them.

Another big factor, is where you will be sitting and the distance the speakers will be from the front, back and side walls. In other words, the best listening spot should be basically trying to make a triangle. The two speakers are the base and your ideal sitting area would be the the final point of the triangle. Not trying to overcomplicate things, but these are big factors for ideal room sound. We don’t need to get into room treatments or anything like that.

Dorsia777
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Giganova…

Last question…due to the size of your room do you want the capability to connect a sub one day?

And most importantly are you ok not buying your stuff from Best Buy lol

Dorsia777
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My Completely Entry Level+ Suggestions…

This is an almost unrealistic task…but for us geeks it is fun and a time waster! Again, only going by what you shared not having any real idea of where these will be placed or what will be next to them…give or take a couple hundred bucks here or there…here are some options I’d be pretty stoked to have considering the budget.

White, Tower Speaker Options:

Revel F35 - $1600
Wharfedale Evo 4.4 - $1998

Note: Not white but these come in a light wood grain and are wrapped on the sides with genuine Italian leather. The Sonus Faber Lumina III - $2100. (For the price/value/quality…I’d even recommend the smaller bookshelf Lumina II - $1200 and one day go big and pair them with a sub, these are that interesting)

Integrated Amp Options:

ArcamSA20 integrated - $1500 (includes a sub output if desired one day)
Cambridge Audio CXA81 (includes a sub output if desired one day) - $1299
NAD C368 BluOS-2i - $1449 (may fit your streaming capabilities more & sub output as well)

All the above are available from Music Direct (except the Sonus Fabers). Please please don’t get your speaker wire from Home Depot or Walmart. Try to get something better…perhaps start small like with Audioquest Type 4 or something similar!

Best of luck…again, I’m just an enthusiast. I’m hanging in the entry level forum just like you! Have fun!

BluesDog
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Monitor Audio Silver 300

Spot on advice from Dorsia. This speaker costs about $2,200 but is in white and might be available cheaper as an open box. Try to listen before buying and determine what type of integrated amp sound you like: ultra neutral or with a hair of warmth. If you could stretch that budget a little the Rotel RA-1572 might work. Can't help but tink you should try to get an emphasis a little on the speakers first and a better integrated later.

Dorsia777
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That too…

Agreed…The Monitor Silver 300 is also a fantastic floorstander! Can’t believe I forgot about that one!

giganova
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Great Advice, thank you!

Great Advice, thank you!

How about the B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Edition or the Oberon 5 or 7 speakers, and a Rotel A14?

Thanks!

Dorsia777
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Your welcome!

So i only recommended what I’ve personally heard. I’ve heard a number of B&W’s. I haven’t demoed that exact model. I did like the 702’s a lot. But I’m not crazy about B&W until you start getting in their higher series. As for the Dali’s I’ve heard really good things about them. But again haven’t demoed them. I do know that they have a great sound to them but your gonna need some power/current to really make them sing. And they don’t need any toe in which is odd.

The Rotel A14 is good. The other three integrated amps I named, in my opinion would outperform it at not just lower levels but especially much higher volumes. Especially the Arcam. Again, the best part about this is that your ears will tell you exactly what you like! If you haven’t demoed Revel, Monitor Audio or Wharfdale you owe it to yourself. The tweeter on the Wharfdale is pretty special. Its similar to the ones found in the new Martin Logan Motion XT speakers.

BluesDog
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Very Fine Job By Dorsia!

Dorsia has done a great job answering this budget challenge. Well Done! Very huge that he has heard what he is talking about. Only other tidbit I could add might be speaker cable. If Kimber Cable or Audioquest is too rich for your budget I have had surprisingly good results with Monoprice 12 gauge. $At $35.00 for 50 feet how much of a risk is this. Well reviewed by Wirecutter. Others may have good speaker wire recommendations as well. The B & W 603 may not have the bass output you need. Now that Monitor Audio has come out with their Silver 7G series we may see some discounts on the current Silver series prices.

Dorsia777
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Thank you BluesDog!

Greatly appreciated! Just trying to spread the fun of this hobby around. Theres a whole new world in listening to music beyond that of…”it sounds good enough” coming from a single speaker Bluetooth speaker on a bookshelf. Lol

Old Audiophile
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AMT Tweeters

A word of caution relative to speakers with AMT tweeters. This is predicated upon approximately 2 to 3 hours of serious personal seat time with the Martin Logan Motion 60XTi. I have no idea if this applies to other speakers employing front-firing AMT tweeters or not. A few reviewers have commented on this, as well.

First time I heard speakers designed with AMT tweeters was the original ESS Monitors back in the early to mid 1970's. I think ESS called it the AMT-1. Those speakers blew me away (in a good sense), even in a crappy sound room! No wonder why a lot of speaker manufacturers are employing that technology in their speakers today, now that Oskar Heil's patent has expired! First time I seriously listened to the ML Motion 60XTi was in a reasonably good sound room but with an anemic 60 watt integrated amp. They gave me and a friend I was with at the time headaches inside of 15 minutes. This was at concert level gain. The sweet spot or listening chairs were about 9 feet from the speakers and there wasn't much more than 3 or 4 feet behind the sweet spot.

Second time this same friend and I heard them was with a Simaudio Moon Neo 340 IX, a MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT over that initial 60 watter. This was in a sound room that left a lot to be desired but had considerably more space behind the listening position (i.e. 12 to 15 feet). I think this made all the difference because those ML sounded spectacular under those circumstances.

A few reviewers have commented that AMT tweeters do best when there's lots of space behind the listening spot. Also, even though the ML Motion 60 XTi are rated as very sensitive, they are rated as a 4 ohm design. As such, I think they probably do best with amplification that can feed them the current they need to sing. So, I would pay particular attention to factors like these, with regard to appropriate matching of speakers & amplification source, especially in a budget system.

Dorsia777
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So Giganova…do tell

Us what you ended up getting. Just curious! The choice was ultimately up to you and your personal tastes.

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