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Steves55's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jan 2 2006 - 1:55pm
Need help w/ a new system for music only

My current system is more set up for movies. I tried to buy a system years ago that could do both but it failed miserably IMO. Weak soundstage no matter what speakers I bought including B&K which I returned at the time of purchase.
My current system
Pioneer Elite VSX 99
Pioneer Elite CLD 99 (don't even get me started on a $2400 LD player that was old tech in less than a year!)
Pioneer Elite Pro 118 tv
Boston Acoustics VR40 fronts
Boston Acoustics VR12 center
Boston Acoustics VR20 rears
M&K sub.

All of this was purchased about 8 years ago. When LD died, I was so bummed out- I swore I wouldn't buy any new gear- ever.

But now- I'm ready to buy a stereo only system- separate from my AV system. I've been to about 4 different stores to audition gear- when I leave I'm usually pissed at the salespeople who want to sell you gear thay are pushing or interconnects that come in boxes you could put a tennis braclet into instead. I realize it's been years since I shopped but are all stores this way? Most of these guys seem to be little interested in letting me listen to what I want to listen to. Seems the gear I want to hear isn't hooked up. What's the deal?
Then there's the brand names. I want this amp & this pair of speakers but I can't find 1 dealer who carries both for an audition w/ my CD.

What I like? All I can go by is what I liked 8 or so years ago. I fell in love w/ this system & it's sound.
Sunfire tube pre-amp
2-Sunfire signature 200 wpc amps
A tube CD player I can't recall it's brand
Martin Logan Quest electrostatics

For me at the time, this was my dream system but waaaay out of my league after buying nearly 9k of AV gear.

The music I listen to is Blues & some jazz. As soon as I say blues- all sales people steer me away from the stats.

So what I'm trying to find out is how you buy gear from 2 different stores when you are unable to hear what it sounds like until after the fact? This is a bunch of money for me for a crap shoot.

I would like recommendations on similar systems that I could audition- less the store sales hype. I really liked the sound of the ML/Sunfire gear & wonder how it stands up today.
I'd really like to talk to someone who owns similar stuff & their opinions after living with it on a daily basis.

commsysman's picture
Last seen: 3 days 18 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Re: Need help w/ a new system for music only

I don't know what kind of money you want to spend, but the Pioneer stuff is not that hard to beat; I would rate it about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.
If you want to go up to a 7 or an 8, the Musical Fidelity A3.5 at $1600 is a star performer. Even the NAD C320BEE would get a 6, and really impress compared to your old gear (at only $400).
For speakers, the Vandersteen Model 2C is a gem at about $1500, or the Infinty Primus 360 is great value at about $700. I guarantee you cant go wrong with those units; safe bets.
Marantz has a great SACD/CD player at $1100 (check their website...can't remember model number).

Buddha's picture
Last seen: 5 years 11 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: Need help w/ a new system for music only

Commsysman makes good recommendations.

I would add one more thing that may or may not apply in the end:

Start by listening to some different speaker types on good demo systems and decide if you are a "planar" speaker guy.

The fact that you were so taken with the system you mention could be the nature of the Martin Logan electrostatic speakers.

Purely a taste thing, because speakers like the Vandersteen are great, but you may end up wanting to build your system around the sound of a certain speaker "type."

Listen to some new Martin Logans or Magneplanar speakers to get a feel for planars, then go listen to some dynamic speakers like the Vandersteens or other handy hi-fi brands at local dealers (NOT Best Buy or a chain store - a real live hi-fi store) and see what you think.

After you make that decision, let's talk some more!

MUDSHARK's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 5:28pm
Re: Need help w/ a new system for music only

Start with the speakers. Once that is accomplished you will have a better idea of the power requirements. 200wpc may not be required. My speakers perform well with just a 60wpc Bryston. The reviews of this magazine and others like it may help form a long list that can be winnowed down by auditions.

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