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LazyBumm's picture
Last seen: 5 years 5 months ago
Joined: Jun 15 2012 - 3:20pm
My first Hi-Fi system - some basic Qs


Hello Everyone,

First of all, let me preface this post by thanking everyone who has contributed to the vast amount of information that is available on the forum. It has helped me transform me from a guy who did not know that terms like receivers existed in the world of hi-fi audio systems to a point where I think I have a grasp of the different components :) So Thank You! I guess what started off as curiosity is slowly developing into a passion for me :)

I just graduated and moving to my new job and one of the first big buys that I have planned for is a stereo system in my bedroom. My budget would be anywhere between $1500 and $1800. I figured that I would spend around $1,000 on bookshelf speakers and the rest on the other equipment.

The speakers that I have shortlisted are

KEF – XQ20

Martin Logan – Motion LX16

Paradigm – Studio 20

PSB – Imagine B

Klipsch – RB-81 II


I thought I would give these a listen in person and then decide which pair I am going to buy. Most of  my music is either played from my laptop or from an external hard-drive. With this in mind, there are a couple of questions that I would love to have your opinion on

1)      I am thinking of going along the lines of an integrated amp and adding a DAC in later.. Is this a good option or should I go in for a DAC right at the beginning since most of my music is going to be from a non CD/DVD source

2)      Since my budget for the amp is kind of small, would refurbished amps be a good choice? If so could you please let me know which retailers I could look at in Chicago area or even online

3)      Also, this integrated amp is going to be used only for these two bookshelf speakers, it is never going to be extended into a home theater system. So with that in mind, could you please suggest some amps that I could look at in my budget ?

This may be a super basic noob question but I just wanted to make sure that I got this right. The following is the set-up I am looking at, so please let me know if this is right ..

Layer 1 - DVD player, Computer, External harddrive


Layer 2 – DAC ( In this case would I require a DAC that can take in multiple inputs ?)


Layer 3 – Integrated amp


Layer 4 – Bookshelf speakers


Looking forward to hearing your opinions and to a great discussion :) Thank you all very much for your time and I hope you have a wonderful Friday evening and a great weekend !



bierfeldt's picture
Last seen: 18 hours 40 min ago
Joined: Oct 26 2007 - 2:30pm
A few suggestions

Your thinking is very good.  Couple of suggestions but a question first, for speakers are you going to add in a subwoofer?  A good audio sub will not be boomy and will give you a fuller sound.  The Mirage Omni CM-08 is a good value at about $350.  

If you are willing to listen to a few other speakers, check out Polk's RTi series, Def Tech has a couple bookshelf's that are real nice and B&W's 600 line should also fit in your budget.   If you are definitely going to add a sub (which I would strongly encourage), you might also consider Sunfire's HRS line and B&W's M-1's.  They are really great sounding little speakers.

For integrated AMPs, NeedleDoctor had a Cambridge Audio Azur on clearance for $299 which is a great value.   I am not sure if they still do. They always have closeouts and you can get some great deals from them. Also, you can get Marantz Factory Refurbs on occasion from Accesories4less.  They are an approved retailer and will typically even carry a warranty. . I think it is the Marantz PM5004 which is the entry point item from them. For more power, Hartman,s HK3490 is a hugely popular receiver that I recently demo'd and it does sound great.

For DAC's, I think most folks would feel this is pretty critical.  Cambridge audio's DAC'S Magic is a great value.  . Peachtree also has a nicely priced entry level DAC.

NAD has a couple of Items that are also a great value. The 326BEE is a great sounding integrated amp and they have a reasonably priced DAC that is wireless.  everyone and then Crutchfield will have open boxes and returns.

Good luck.  

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