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bullets2k's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 17 2009 - 8:51am
Advice on first stereo system

All I want for Christmas is to treat myself to a new stereo, as I've been using my son's Sony boombox for years. I will listen to Eagles, classical, red hot chili peppers, willie nelson etc, and live in a small townhouse. I want to spend no more than $800 and need advice. Please advise on my choices below. I'm basically just going on amazon, seems easy enough and when I go to stereo stores all they seem to have are more expensive systems. Thanks for the help!!

Speakers, Should I get Polk audio RTi4 for $130, Polk TSi200 for $300, or KlipschB-2 Synergy for $250?

Receivers, Yamaha RX-797 for $436, Onkyo TX 8555 for $250, or any advice for about a $300 receiver that i can get on Amazon??

CD player, yamaha CDC 697 5 disc changer for $219, other suggestions on a cd player that handles at least 3 cd's at a time?

bullets2k's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 17 2009 - 8:51am
Re: Advice on first stereo system

Me again, what about the yamaha rx 4977 for about $350?

Monty's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 16 2005 - 6:55pm
Re: Advice on first stereo system

It's tough to suggest any of the ones you have mentioned as they are more about features, mass production and broad appeal at the expense of high fidelity. It's not that most people wouldn't find them to be fine for casual listening, but most of the people into Stereophile recognize their short comings and couldn't be happy with them for very long. It's not a snob thing, it's just that the compromises in sound quality to achieve a price point relegate them to the "not worth the money" column for people who desire better sound from their music systems.

Having said that, if you need a system that will serve as the center of an audio/visual set-up, and your budget is limited to $800, it's hard to beat the things you have mentioned. In a situation like that, you need the versatility of what Onkyo and the others are offering. They are being asked to do multiple jobs and they generally do that just fine...and the price is reasonable.

I have an Onkyo surround receiver in my living room for movies and stuff and I preferred their "house" sound over the other competing brands in the budget limited catagory of mass market hi-fi.

Aside from the mass market stuff, companies like NAD, Rotel, Cambridge Audio, Outlaw Audio and several others offer relatively inexpensive, well made and nice sounding audio gear, though they aren't available from Amazon and they can't compete from an absolute price comparison as they generally offer fewer features and concentrate on getting the sound right with better parts and design.

Only you can make the determination for your circumstances and according to your value judgements. But, you might do a quick web search of the brands to see if anything sparks your interest.

judicata's picture
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Joined: Jun 26 2008 - 11:55am
Re: Advice on first stereo system

I agree 100% with Monty. If you're looking for a significant improvement over a typical "boom box" you will definitely get it with the products you selected.

Like most people here, I'm going to resist the urge to attempt to persuade you to increase your budget. Once you see a few products that 'philes call "budget" you'll be in shock.

I'd try to listen to the speakers first, but they all have their pros and cons. I'd go with the Onkyo. Can't help on the CD player. Why don't you add musicdirect and crutchfield into the mix?

Good luck!

jackfish's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
Re: Advice on first stereo system

PSB Image B25 bookshelf loudspeakers for $320/pair.

Harman Kardon HK3390 stereo receiver for $240.

Sony SCD-CE595 5-disc carousel w/ SACD playback $150.

Add a pair of PSB SP-25i speaker stands for $80. Lower left corner of the page.

Knock yourself out!

pmburn01's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Oct 10 2007 - 8:30am
Re: Advice on first stereo system

From my post on Recommended Systems in the December issue forum. I have been very pleased with this system while I am assembling my new higher-end system.

For the cash strapped audiophile, I will throw out a combination that I think is especially well-suited:

Cambridge Audio 340A integrated amplifier $349
Cambridge Audio 340C cd player $349
Cambridge Audio 340T tuner $229
Cambridge Audio iD10 iPod dock and accessory package $89
Cambridge Audio S30 stand-mount loudspeakers $219

Monster M350i interconnects approx $45/pr
Monster Z3 reference speaker cable (available online for $75 per 10 ft pr)

Throw in power cables from a small manufacturer such as Zebra Cables or Signal Cable along with a Salamander rack and you are still in for less than $2000 with great upgrades available for very little money such as a Musical Fidelity V-Dac or a Cambridge Dac Magic.


commsysman's picture
Last seen: 14 hours 57 min ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Re: Advice on first stereo system

I hate to be a wet blanket, but I am appalled by the junk you mentioned; much of it is absolutely terrible for the money.

If you want to spend $800 and get some decent sound quality, I suggest the following:

1) The NAD C515BEE CD player ($299)

2) The NAD C315BEE Integrated amplifier ($349)

3) Boston Acoustics CS26 speakers ($149) OR the Cambridge Audio S30 speakers ($199). There are tons of speakers for under $200, of course, but the two I mention have some fairly decent bass performance; many small speakers have none to speak of. In time, one could step up to some better speakers, in the $300 to $500 range, and the NAD electronics will still be very suitable.

The NAD gear will give you sound quality that is immeasurably better than any of the gear you mentioned.

All of the above can be ordered online or by telephone at Audio Advisor or many stereo stores (check the NAD website for dealers). I have done business many times with Audio Advisor, and they have a 30-day full refund policy on equipment; just ship it back the way you got problem. I have done just that a couple of times.

It's pretty hard to go wrong with Audio Advisor, and the NAD gear is unbeatable for the price; their only serious competition in that price category is Cambridge Audio. A 30-day free trial in your home is hard to beat.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 2 days 12 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Re: Advice on first stereo system

I would be inclined to listen to commsysman.

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