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dperrymorrow's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jul 18 2006 - 6:36am
buying my first system, advice appreciated...

hello all over the past few years i have collected a couple hundred records that i really enjoy, alot of jazz, blues, classical, rock, reggae, and ska mostly.

i have never owned a nice stereo so i am a little unsure about what to buy. i have gotten some advice from friends and this is the list of what i am considering. my budget is under 2000.

amplifier ( should i get an integrated or should i go with power and preamp? )
NAD C352 intergrated amplifier

turn table and soundstage
NAD C555 with

Infinity BETA 40
Klipsch RF-52
Klipsch RB-61 ( which is a smaller cabinet with a larger driver )

any help is greatly appreciated.

lemonizer's picture
Last seen: 4 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jun 6 2006 - 7:29am
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Everything there would make you happy.

However whatever you do dont buy any speakers until you've auditioned some dynaudio audience 42(s).

They come in at about $800 but as far as my ears can tell, nothing comes close in that range. Recommended.

Good luck with your purchases and welcome to the forums..

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 1 day 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Whatever speakers you buy you must listen to them first. That said, I recommend Magnaplaners or any ESL's.

imispgh's picture
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: May 23 2006 - 10:37am
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

On the speakers - try Monitor, Revel, Paradigm, Triangle and even Athena and Infinity.

johnathank's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jul 25 2006 - 11:58am
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

You can't go wrong with Klipsch, imo.

mrlowry's picture
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: May 30 2006 - 1:37pm
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Sometimes what you buy isn

CECE's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 17 2005 - 8:16am
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

On speakers, can't go wrong with LEGACY MHO, well maybe not so HUMBLE. AVA to drive them

Windzilla's picture
Last seen: 3 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Oct 19 2005 - 10:10pm
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Last year I put together my first system, on the same budget, with somewhat similar tastes. I would advise, like others, visiting as many dealers as possible, and holding off pulling the trigger until you have fallen in love.

Mistakes I made

1: room size is key, I didn't allow it to factor in as much as i should have. I have been moving about a lot (already twice since I bought my system) and my big wharfedales can overpower a small room, but sound superb in a medium to large room.

2: auditioning. My speakers were demo units purchased online for half the price of them new. A deal i pulled the trigger on without auditioning many others, and without an amplifier and source to drive them. Although I had a one month audition period, I was never able to audition them on my current equipment until it expired. In such a cluttered and competitive market as the 500-1000 dollar speaker, there is no excuse for not shopping around.

3: Cables, and cable management. getting quality cables is important, weather its DUP's parts express stuff, my canare 4s11 or some of the more exotics, poor quality and inappropriate gauge can be a burden. Furthermore interconnects can make a difference at least for RF interference. How much to spend is debatable, but getting those cheap things from radio-shack is a bad idea, and monster cable is IMHO often overpriced, check out the DIY sites for make your own, or bluejeans cable and the like for other reasonable options. Making sure you have your EMI noisy components (amp) well separated from the EMI sensitive ones (turntable) is really important as well.

4: budget a vinyl cleaner, like the record doctor. I believe that 200 bucks spent cleaning the media beats 200 bucks spent spinning it any day of the week. I wish I had budgeted one.

About your tastes. I noticed things like Ska up listed. I'm not sure about vinyl recordings, but on CD Ska brass is often recorded with levels that make it very bright, matching that kind of source with a klipsch speaker may become tiring with any serious listening. though I imagine with Ska you may not be sitting and listening for hours.

well that's my two cents.


JasonVSerinus's picture
Last seen: 4 years 5 months ago
Joined: Apr 10 2006 - 11:22am
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Dare I say it? The latest TAS includes a feature on five lower-cost systems, arranged by price point. I believe that NAD components are featured somewhere in the mix. You may want to add some of the components mentioned therein to your list of possibilities. The same applies to lower cost items on Stereophile's justly-valued list of recommended components.

Have you checked out the archives of budget component reviews on this website?

Note that these recommendations do not include cabling, supports and resonance control, and power conditioning. Despite what many people would have you believe, these are major factors in determining the overall musicality of a system. Stock cables (including power cables) transmit only a small percentage of the sound, nuance, and essential musicality that equipment is capable of delivering. Some people may foam at the mouth at the notion of cabling that costs the same or even more than their components, but cables do make a major difference.

I would do whatever possible to audition components using high quality cables. The Cable Company (1-800-FATWYRE) allows you to borrow cabling for a fee, then apply the rental fee towards final purchase price. They also guide you as to what cables may sound the best with your particular component configuration.

Even if you have to wait awhile until the money is in place to buy good cabling, auditioning components with loaners in place let's you hear the system's ultimate potential. The same goes for a power conditioner/regenerator/whatever. My system sounds harsh as hell without clean power.

I hope you'll let us know what you finally end up with, and what you may have eliminated in the process.

jason victor serinus

gkc's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Feb 24 2006 - 11:51am
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Welcome to the forum, dperrymorrow. Windzilla's advice is important. Always audition first. You waited this long -- it makes no sense to jump the gun now. You listen to a variety of music -- I would recommend that you "weight" demanding (full orchestral) classical high as you listen. Many systems that can handle small jazz, rock, Ska, or the other genres you mention simply do not portray a full symphony orchestra very well. On the other hand, systems that do the best job on symphonic music ALWAYS sound fine on the other genres, in my opinion.

$2000 isn't much, unfortunately, to budget for a complete system. You will have to be very careful and shop for dealer demos. I don't like recommending used gear to a neophyte buying his first system. Experienced hobbyists who know how to tweak and what to expect do very well in the used market, but you need a dealer.

Within the constraints of a $2000 system, I can't agree with those who recommend power conditioners in the beginning outlay. These are luxury items, even though they do improve the sound -- sometimes, however, only marginally. I enjoyed -- and I mean enjoyed -- recorded music for 30 years before I even knew what a power conditioner was. Most modern amps are regulated and do a fair-to-good job of taking care of the first 90% of the crap that comes over the AC line.

Further, I wouldn't worry about cables in the initial outlay. The Cable Company is a good source, for reasons mentioned by Jason, but they'll still be there next year. Why pay a "rental fee" that HAS to be cashed in with a purchase when, again, you are extremely limited in your initial budget? As you listen to different systems, ask the dealer to change cables once in awhile. Note carefully how much difference you hear. It won't be much. You won't need high-end wires to tell which speakers you prefer -- you'll know. Get the frills later, with NEXT year's budget. NO WIRE will make a one-hundredth as much difference in overall sound as the speaker/amp combination you choose. Again, I enjoyed a lot of music for a long, long time before I even knew after-market wires existed.

The brands mentioned on this thread are all good. But never, NEVER buy a system just because it is featured in some magazine. You must hear it. Jason's advice is good for narrowing your trips to the store down, but YOU MUST DO THE LISTENING! I hope you live in an area where there are at least a few dealers within driving distance. If not, you should try Music Direct, or one of the other large mail-order firms that carry a WIDE variety of gear and will let you try the gear in your home, free of charge. You may have to pay some shipping if you don't like your purchase, but that's better than buying blind -- and underscores my opinion that you can't afford power conditioners and custom wires initially. These don't come cheap, and you need to pinch pennies.

Add Music Hall and Epos to your list. The system I heard in Roy Hall's room at the Stereophile HE show (he's the distributor) was superb, with cheap wire and little-or-no power conditioning. A bit more than your budget, with $2000 speakers, but ALL their less expensive gear is excellent. Good luck, Clifton.

Buddha's picture
Last seen: 6 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Mrlowry makes great points!

I also agree with Windzilla and Jason and Clifton!

I would add, as I usually do, that what you are about to embark on is a lifelong quest, not a one stop errand.
As such, there is some long term strategy to consider.

I vote for choosing as much gear as possible that you will keep on board as your ears and tastes evolve.

Trouble is, you can't purchase a whole system of "timeless" pieces at your initial price point.

The strategy part is to buy certain pieces of gear that will not need upgrading as your system evolves.

So, focus resources disporportionately this first time.

Find some speakers you truly love, or an integrated that is going to be able to drive as wide an array of speakers as possible - the idea is that when you look back at your system investment, as much of it as possible remains in your future system when you want to upgrade.

Your choices are varied and will, in the end, should reflect your unique priorities, but I can toss out some advice...

1) Pick a speaker that is known to mate well with quality sub-woofers. Down the road, you can add sound quality with woof-ification and not have to spend "new" cash on replacing/repurchasing speakers.

I say, sacrifice a little bass before sacrificing treble or midrange can easily add the low end in the future if you plan now, but you can't really upgrade treble or mids without replacing your initial speakers. Get the best midbass through treble that you can now, and move down later when you want to move up!

2) For a turntable, I'm leaning VPI, because even though it may use up a disproportionate fraction of your outlay now, VPI will be around in ten years, AND (!) they offer terrific upgrade paths to really continue delivering value from your initial outlay. You can keep improving your VPI table for years and really benefit from every dollar you "invest" in it now.

3) Save money by not going for seperate amp/preamp now. A good integrated will give you more performance per dollar. Shop carefully for the features and performance you like. Include the ability of the integrated to be used as a preamp, too. Then, as you upgrade, you can add an amplifier and still make good use of the original gear.

4) Again, Mrlowry is dead right - finding a good source of used gear can save huge dollars and up your performance curve now.

5) At your price point, digital sound is evolving so quickly, that I would vote to minimize your expense here and go relatively "cheap." Consider digital gear to be the most expendable.

Also, new cheap digital is usually a better deal than marked down formerly expensive used digital gear, in much the same way as a new 500 dollar computer will be a better deal than a 5 year old computer that was originally 10,000 dollars but now "offered" for that same 500.

Look for some good reviews of cheap new gear here.

6) Mrlowry is also right on about hooking up with a good bricks and mortar dealer. Not only can he/she help picking items that work well together, many dealers have trade up policies that will provide for good "trade in" value for gear you have bought from them and want to upgrade down the road. Some dealers even used to offer a one-year full-value trade allowance.

Like Windzilla mentioned, your errors at the beginning will be more frequent, so a good dealer's advice and possible trade up value can turn out to be the best bargain in audio!

OK, cheers, and keep us in the loop!

ohfourohnine's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 7:41pm
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

Welcome, dperrymorrow, to one of the few beneficial addictions I know of. It is clear from the links you provided that you've already found MusicDirect. They are an excellent outfit, and the Music Hall TT package and Marantz Integrated you listed would put you head and shoulders above the typical "first system". The links you give to speakers leave me far less enthusiastic. Staying within your budget, you could benefit from checking out the Epos line of stand mounted two-ways. The M-5 and a pair of inexpensive stands might be right up your alley, and, unless they've changed their policy, MusicDirect will let you audition them in your own home. Try to include about $200 for a record cleaning machine, and let the quality interconnects and speaker cables wait until you deserve another treat.

Those who recommend a good brick and morter dealer are right, but since you may not have access to one, there are quality mail order houses around, and you've already found one of them. Best of luck in putting your system together. Let us know how it comes out.

Just curious, will vinyl be your only source or do you plan to add a digital source to the system?

mjalazard's picture
Last seen: 11 months 5 days ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 4:38pm
Re: buying my first system, advice appreciated...

With the glut of home theater equiptment available, there are many nice receivers on the market now. Most are of the home-theater type, with gazillions of input/output options, but there are many manufacurers making some simpler, old style receivers. I believe Outlaw audio is getting some good reviews. This way you have access to 24-7 music through FM while you build your music collection. If you have you have any good, larger stereo repair shops in town, check them out for used speakers and the like. You tend to have much less pressure for sales...I remember "Recycled Stereo" in Southern Cal, which, unfortunately is no longer there, was a great place to find some stereo gems. Make sure you take a good collection of music as well as a well thought out price range. With the internet, you can often find formal reviews and threads on the equiptment you like.
Good luck and have fun. Take your time!

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