Looking at Getting Into Audio "Stuff"

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by ender land, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    #1
    Hey everyone!

    I hope this is the correct place to post something like this.

    I recently bought a pair of upright speakers for $25 (not very high quality speakers comparatively speaking) but have yet to purchase a receiver.

    Now, I have wanted for several years to build myself a nice sound system because I very much enjoy listening to music and appreciate good speakers a lot. At some point in the next years I will likely spend probably close to $1,000 on speakers and other audio accessories, simply because I know it is something I enjoy and will find interesting.

    The question I am faced with is now which receiver to buy. I am relatively out of my element on audio equipment so when looking at a long list of varying receivers - such as Newegg's list - I am unsure what to even be looking for. I do not think I would have a problem getting a fairly decent receiver in light of what I expect to do with speakers in the future (rather than purchase a cheap one and upgrade in the near future).

    Advice, website recommendations, product recommendations, or anything would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

    -enderland
     
  2. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

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    Stuck in the middle with you
  3. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #3
    No, nor any cheap MacIntosh tube amps.

    I have had Sony receivers in the past, and now have a near-elderly Pioneer receiver. Also have a Thorens TD-150 that is a thing of beauty. Just change-out the cartridge for higher specs.

    But the crowning glory of my system is the 45-year-old Electro-Voice Marquis bass-reflex floor monitors.

    Never cheap out on your speakers, otherwise everything before them is limited.
     
  4. Xavier macrumors 68020

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    Columbus
    #4
    Go Rotel.

    But to be honest, to get a good system, expect to spend more than $1,000.
     
  5. jdavtz, Jan 14, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011

    jdavtz macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Okay,

    $1000 on audio stuff
    is
    $100 on cables and things you don't realise you need
    $400 on speakers
    $100 on speaker stands
    $400 on amplifier

    You don't have in input source there. I'm assuming you'll be using your computer. The digital-analogue converter (DAC) in that probably isn't great, so you might want to consider an amplifier with a digital input (USB or Toslink (the red fibre optic thing)) - these amplifiers are normally the sort that come with "home cinema" packages and will cost more than a standard stereo amplifier, or you can buy a dedicated DAC box to go with a normal stereo integrated amp. Maybe a $100 DAC and $350 amp and $350 speakers, or some split something like that?

    If you look online for things like "best speakers under $500" I'm sure you'll uncover dozens of reviews.
     
  6. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

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    #6
    With all the digitizing going on - is it even worth it?
     
  7. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

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    Kenya
    #7
    Well you can't actually hear the 0s and 1s, so...
     
  8. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #8
    As many young people are now discovering, 0's and 1's offer no "warmth".

    As with all things in life, it's totally subjective.

    But, a caveat, vinyl is making a comeback. ;)
     
  9. squeeks macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    Florida
    #9
    for a receiver you will want to stick to an Onkyo or a Denon, It really depends on exactly you want to do..if you want to get a bluray player and want to make sure you get one that has HDMI input and can decode all of the latest formats, Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS Master HD..most of the newer receivers CAN do this.

    You will also want to set aside money for a subwoofer, tower speakers will produce quite a bit of bass but nothing beats a dedicated sub.

    check out AVS forums

    www.avsforum.com

    there are a lot of expert audio people there will love to help you further.
     
  10. Mord, Jan 14, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011

    Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #10
    I spent a little under that amount for my kit.

    I spent £450 on ancient 70s floorstanding speakers, £20 renovating them, £120 on a 120w fairly generic german amp and a tenner for fairly generic cables from maplin.

    For that I got something that pisses all over anything else I've heard, 10Hz-40KHz flat.

    With audiophile gear I have to say you really don't always get what you pay for, all too often a cheap well researched collection of kit will beat out a lot of very expensive stuff. A lot of manufacturers rely on marketing to make you feel like you're getting quality and then you'll convince yourself it sounds amazing having shelled out for it.


    I'd disagree, I happen to like the dual 12" cones on my floorstanders. I've yet to come across a dedicated sub that compares to them, unfortunately it's fairly uncommon to find something comparable on modern speakers :(
     
  11. ender land thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Thanks, I will definitely check those out - you were right, there is a ton more dedicated stuff there :) One of the confusing things in this has been the Onkyo brand name - I literally have never heard of it as a brand prior to starting this research, but it does seem to be pretty solid.

    True... I guess it'd be nice to get a nice receiver to be able to upgrade speakers in the future but what is the point if you cannot fully utilize things right away :)




    That appears to be consistent with what I've found so far, ufnortuantely there are just hundreds upon hundreds of options - a fair bit different from the 'which mac' choice ;)
     
  12. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #12
    Yep, me too.

    My floorstanders have EV 12's in them, and a horn tweeter/mid-range.

    They were worth an arm and a leg back in 1964 dollars, but now I have excellence.
     
  13. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    UK
    #13
    What are they?

    I have a pair of Celestion Ditton 662 myself, 3/4" mylar dome, 2" dome mid, 12" bass cone and a 12" passive cone top to bottom.

    I've always wanted to get my hands on some acoustic research speakers, ideally something like a pair of AR3.
     
  14. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #14
    Mord, they are older than you, and most, here.

    This is close to what they look like.

    They have SP-12B base, TC-250 horns, a cross-over and an attenuator, for room ambience.
     

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  15. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #15
    Older than me isn't difficult! mine certainly are though the ones we had previously were about the same vintage as yours, Celestion Ditton 44 that were built in the 60s, essentially the generation before our current ones and a step down the model line.

    Those look really special, I'd love to hear something like that some day, I really do think there's something missing in modern mass produced kit that you only really get with older hand built stuff which was individually hand built and tested to specification before sold.

    These are mine, I'm tempted to rebuild the crossovers some time as the caps have seen better days but otherwise they're in perfect working order.
     

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  16. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #16
    Don't listen to the garbage from 'audiophiles', some would have you spending $1,000 just on wire. My $1,200 2 channel harman kardon and JBL setup sounds nearly as good as anything I've demo'd at high end shops. Money spent on audio equipment is subject to extreme diminishing returns.
     
  17. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #17
    Ouch.

    Not about to pull the screws on the back of mine right now. ;)

    The horn is at the top, the 12" is below that, and the port is below that again.
     
  18. jsilas macrumors regular

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    Dec 6, 2010
    Location:
    Washington State
    #18
    The options are really limitless, and as you've already seen in this thread, opinions are rampant and often contradictory.

    If you're only interested in 2-channel music playback (as opposed to home theater multi-channel sound), then you may want to audition some simple integrated amplifiers. Of course you can spent lots of money there too, but the point is there's no reason to pay for extensive multi-channel decoding and amplification when all you need are two channels.

    I spent many years in the audio/video industry before shifting directions in my career, and I still maintain a hearty interest in this area. If you have any particular questions or anything, feel free to ask.


    If you're interested:

    My electronics are largely Denon (chosen as a reasonably affordable hybrid between good stereo performance and good theater performance).

    My main left/right speakers are where the majority of my system expense lies - they are Sonus Faber Domus Grand Pianos.
     
  19. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

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    #19
    I've always used either Denon or Pioneer Elite for 'production' receivers. Recently, I've become a bigger fan of Pioneer Elite as the lower end Denons do not impress me (their higher end is amazing however). Pioneer Elite is nice because the 'Elite' differentiates it from their regular Pioneer Receivers, which aren't very impressive. You can get a mid-high end 7.1 THX U3 Pioneer Elite for $500-$700, which normally is a $1300-$2000 system (provided they are still available). This is because right before it was released, the standard of HDMI changed and so the system did not support whatever the current is, 1.3 or something and so they had to update their 'new' models quickly and retailers needed to move the existing ones. You can even find these at Best Buy for discounted prices (if your BB has the 'Magnolia' section). You can get a pretty good Elite online for about $300. Onkyo makes good stuff too, but like Denon, they make starter models which you really don't want. Yamaha is supposed to be the same way. Marantz used to make great receivers but I really don't know much about the current ones; they always have been more expensive because of the name though and I've always preferred Elite to them. I would spend the most money on the receiver because a higher end model from any of the above companies will last you for years and years. It also gives you more flexibility, some can be updated, the higher end models have more different units and more units for switching, has a better universal remote, has a better build quality, and above all, has better sound in both stereo, true surround and simulated surround. The biggest thing you will read about a lot of receivers is that although people may like them, they frequently say that the wish they went a bit higher of a model. The higher models also usually use different amps and obtain a power output that is higher than the lower models, even if they are rated the same (receiver and car-heatunit rated output is very misleading).

    Speaker wise, the best way to decide is to go listen as everyone has their preference. I would avoid Bose as their quality has really gone downhill recently. You may want to buy higher end speakers that are used off of CL as you can find some high end stuff for really, really cheap in perfect condition. Bowers and Wilkins (or B&W) are one of the standards of hi-fi sound and they are used in many different pro studious. They make speakers up to $40,000 a pair, but what a lot of people don't know is that they make 5 and 7 piece surround 'kits' for much less. They aren't really bass heavy, but they are amazingly clear and the imaging of even their 'starter' center channel speaker is great. If you go all bookshelf speakers, add a good sub such as the Definitive Technology Supercube 1, 2, or 3 (they really bring action movies to life).

    I would build your system over time as you can make a system that you can have for decades. If you just start out with a receiver and 1 pair of speakers, you will enjoy them more if they sound better and clearer. Also, with CL, you can get some of the highest end speakers for less than many lower end ones retail for.

    Oh yeah, and above all, don't buy the fancy HDMI cables. It's a digital signal, so the gold platnum uraniam coatings do prettymuch nothing. You don't need Monster speaker wire either as you can find high quality off brand for a lot less (sometimes it is even made by Monster but not labeled). Do be sure to get a good power control system once you feel you have enough nice equipment to warrant getting a unit over a surge protector. Panamx makes a few great systems for a few hundred bucks and they will protect your electronics even if there is an electrical storm inside your house (also use those outlets for your comp(s) since they are protected. The Panamax I use can be bought for $150-200 and it is well worth the money.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. wvuwhat macrumors 65816

    wvuwhat

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    #20
    avsforum.com

    Get ready to spend a huge amount of time on there. And, like previous posters have said, 1,000 is not anywhere near good audio "stuff."
     
  21. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000

    Uofmtiger

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    #21
    The main thing to figure out is what you want from the receiver. Do you want two channel or more? Do you need video switching? The answers will more narrowly define your search.

    Once you make that choice, you should figure out which speakers you want. If you go with the receiver first, you may not be able to drive the speakers properly. For example, Magnepan MMGs are highly rated and fit your budget, but require clean power ( the more the better).

    If you want to go two channel vintage equipment, I would suggest Audiokarma forum. For surround, avsforum (as was mentioned above) is great.
     
  22. ender land thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Thanks for all the help everyone, this has been hugely valuable.

    Speakers are just so much more complicated than buying a computer (or hell even a car) :cool:
     
  23. squeeks macrumors 68040

    squeeks

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    #23
    haha, i wasent considering dual 12"s on a single tower when i said that :p

    i imagine you get some pretty good bass from that...
     
  24. oscillatewildly macrumors 68000

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    #24
    Haven't had a good look at the site for a while, but there may be something helpful:

    http://www.audioasylum.com/index.htm

    I'd have a look at some audio forums to get an idea about what makes/models of modern and older equipment are generally well regarded. If you are patient, you can put together a good secondhand system for relatively little money. There are also ex-dem items. The 'sound' you like is personal, try to get an hour or more session listening to your music, probably easier to arrange re modern gear. It's a good idea to test the selected equipment in the room you are going to use, especially the speakers; not all speakers suit your room - bass boom, lack of bass ...

    There is the old 'garbage in, garbage out', and don't go mad re cables.

    Good luck,
    OW
     
  25. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #25
    These are mine, well not "mine".

    I paid about $400 all-in, about 45 years ago. :cool:
     

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