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Aztec Armadillo
Aztec Armadillo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 21 2012 - 1:09pm
Finishing up new system plans. Unable to listen before buying and would like comments.

I’m trying to put together a system for the first time. I have a few questions and a need for ideas in terms of purchasing. I cannot really try out anything in person. So I am stuck with reviews. Most have been problematic as many seem to be more advertisements than reviews.
General Situation:
-Can’t really test anything
-Lives in apartment, won’t be playing loud
-I am on a lenient budget
I would lean more towards quality versus cost.

A number of the items I found have relatives in catalogues and if I'm need looking at another that is simply better and worth the money tell me.

Cd Player: Max ~$600
Marantz CD5004 & CD6004 CD Player: $350, $500
First I have seen recommended. The second I know little about. Is there much of a difference with $150
NAD C 546BEE: $500
Said as being very good. Versus the 6004?
Marantz CC4003 5 Disc CD Changer: $400
I listen to a lot of cds. This is more convenience. Is this basically the 5004 with a multi cd option?

Turntable: Max ~$500
Rega RP1: ($445/$640 performance pack)
Well known and generally well reviewed.
Music Hall MMF 2.2: $450.00
Music Hall MMF 2.2LE: $500.00
This one is commonly mentioned on the forum, but I’m not really sure why. Knowing that would be nice.

Receiver/Amp: Max $1500 (would like to be lower, sub $1000 really)
NAD C 375BEE: $1500
Looking at this as it seems well reviewed and compared to others is better in the price/quality range.
NAD C356BEE DAC: $900.00
Also appears good, but as a downgrade from more expensive NAD.
I am would prefer to get the component through amazon, but if a better site exists elsewhere then great.
Others that I’m looking at:
Harman Kardon HK 3490 120 Watt Stereo Receiver
Marantz PM5004 & PM6004 & PM8004 ($450, $550, $1000)
Given what I am looking at for turntables and cd players what receiver will actually be worthwhile for me? Like would the quality of my receiver being higher than necessary and offer no real returns?

Speakers: Max ~$650
Finally these. Given everything else which of these makes sense?
Audioengine 5+: $399
Reviewed here. Looks good.
PSB Image B6: $500
Really this is a competition between this one and the one above. Also reviewed here and also looks good.
Totem Dreamcatcher: $625
Not sure about these. Also reviewed here but it seems devoid of comparison to other speakers.

Are these the only options for me in speakers? Do they make sense with the other items?

Not worrying about them right now. Will get latter. If you have any opinions though I will gladly listen.

Do I really need one of these? I’ve heard from several posts and pages saying that below a thousand dollar threshold that these are terrible. I am getting some kind of Receiver/Amp combination so I am thinking no.
Secondly, given the parts I am looking at though will a notice any drop in quality or will it be significant?

Other Items:
Aside from cables, is there anything else I need/should have?


jackfish's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
There are companies which make in home auditions

possible. You should do a little research on Emotiva. It is a factory direct company that provides for return of equipment within 30 days for a purchase price refund. Here is a system that will be on par or better than anything you have listed:

Emotiva ERC-2 CD player $449

Emotiva USP-1 preamp with phono stage $449

Emotiva XPA-200 power amplifier $499 New and not reviewed yet, but it is a robust power amplifier which doubles its 120 wpc into 8 Ohms when run at 4 Ohms due to a large 350 VA toroidal transformer and 90,000uF secondary capacitance.


Unfortunately, there are few places that will allow in home auditions of turntables. Fortunately, there are some good entry level turntables that will likely satisfy most listeners. Here are the best choices:


Pro-Ject Debut Carbon $399

Music Hall MMF-2.2 in black $449


For loudspeakers, you can't look past the Magnepan MMG for $599/pair. Try them and if you don't like them return them within 60 days for a purchase price refund.


If you don't have room for the Magnepan MMGs, another option with a 30 day money back return and exceptional sound are the Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 SE.


I have a feeling that you wouldn't be sending any of it back.

Aztec Armadillo
Aztec Armadillo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 21 2012 - 1:09pm
    I got  the Music Hall



I got  the Music Hall MMF 2.2LE on the way. (red bits make it go faster)

In terms of CD players:
Is there any difference in the 450-500 range CD players? I ask because there are the Marantz, NAD,  Yamaha CD-S700, Emotiva etc? I would hope so, but I'm more or less settled on the emotiva for this.

The whole separate pre-amp and power amp is unappealing as it roughly doubles cost. Is the integrated alternative (600-800 range) that much worse?

(for example OUTLAW - RR-2150 RECEIVER or MARANTZ - M-CR603 SYSTEM)

Do the ascend acoustics selection differ much soundwise from the speakers I listed?

Aztec Armadillo
Aztec Armadillo's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: Sep 21 2012 - 1:09pm
After looking around I found

After looking around I found that music direct also has a 30 return policy. So I'm probably going to get the Marantz PM6004 as a reciever  unless +$200. I don't think I'm going to be able to differentiate tha much at this point between the competition,

jackfish's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
Depending on which loudspeakers you choose the Marantz

PM6004 may be an underwhelming performer. I'd look into the Music Hall A15.2 instead from Music Direct for $499.

In my opinion, the Emotiva ERC-2 is the cream of the crop of the group including it, the Marantz CD6004, the NAD C546BEE, and the Yamaha CD-S700.

The worst thing that can happen is that you end up with less than you want. Would it be worth the $150 to get the Emotiva separates over an $800 integrated amplifier? In my opinion, yes. "I would lean more towards quality versus cost." was your statement. The 30 day money back guarantee from Music Direct is not a "no questions asked" policy and it is implied that it applies to damage or defects. They don't come right out and say you can return items for any reason. Emotiva has a 30-day, no questions asked, hassle-free returns policy. Ascend states, "If for any reason during this 30-day trial period you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, you may return these items for a complete refund."

The Magnepan MMG and Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 SE Mains rival loudspeakers which cost $1,500 and $1,000 a pair, respectively.

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