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budget amp - new or used

Burnz0

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Apr 7, 2013
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first off, apologies for starting yet another post but after reading through lots of posts on this site i feel my question is now much more specific than yesterday.

I'm after a suitable amp to drive my Eltax Silverstone 200 speakers and due to me being on a tight budget i'm definitely considering going down the second hand route.

I no longer have the manual for the speakers but the details i've got so far are as follows:

Music Power 200w

Sinus Power 100w

Freq response - 45-20.000HZ

Impedance 4-8 Ohm

I can't find anything on the sensitivity (which i fear is an important factor?).

I will sometimes be using the speakers for out in the garden so they need to be able to go relatively loud for this reason which I think means i need to go for a higher powered amp than the standard 30/40w?

In my last post someone kindly suggested an amp that was in the £250-300 range which is a bit pricey for me at the moment. I'm not convinced the Eltax are the best speakers out there so i'd probably prefer to go for something cheaper to match with them.

The other option, if you think the Eltax are not worth working around, would be to start a fresh if this can be done for a relatively decent price?

Can anyone suggest some amps I can search ebay, gumtree etc. for or a budget brand new? Or, a suitable setup for the second option?
 

Dougal1331

Well-known member
Dec 30, 2007
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I'll throw in my two pennyworth...

I reckon a NAD C350 would fit the bill- usually sell for just under a ton, plenty of power and capable of driving just about any speaker, thanks to Impedance Sensing Circuitry which calibrates the amp to the load. Also happens to sound very good!
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,627
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Burnz0 said:
first off, apologies for starting yet another post but after reading through lots of posts on this site i feel my question is now much more specific than yesterday.

I'm after a suitable amp to drive my Eltax Silverstone 200 speakers and due to me being on a tight budget i'm definitely considering going down the second hand route.

I no longer have the manual for the speakers but the details i've got so far are as follows:

Music Power 200w

Sinus Power 100w

Freq response - 45-20.000HZ

Impedance 4-8 Ohm

I can't find anything on the sensitivity (which i fear is an important factor?).

I will sometimes be using the speakers for out in the garden so they need to be able to go relatively loud for this reason which I think means i need to go for a higher powered amp than the standard 30/40w?

In my last post someone kindly suggested an amp that was in the £250-300 range which is a bit pricey for me at the moment. I'm not convinced the Eltax are the best speakers out there so i'd probably prefer to go for something cheaper to match with them.

The other option, if you think the Eltax are not worth working around, would be to start a fresh if this can be done for a relatively decent price?

Can anyone suggest some amps I can search ebay, gumtree etc. for or a budget brand new? Or, a suitable setup for the second option?
First, Eltax make some really good speakers at the price point. I'd be looking at this http://www.richersounds.com/product/amplifiers-receivers/marantz/pm5004/mara-pm5004-blk or an amp off one of the auction sites, such as Arcam Alpha range (7, 8 or 9 preferably) or Nad 320. From memory Eltax are pretty flexible speakers in terms of amp matching.

BTW, wouldn't look too much into specs. A 40 watt amp like a Marantz will drive those speakers without a problem, assuming, of course, you don't listen at 'Club Levels'.
 

Burnz0

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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Thanks for the recommendations.... I probably shouldn't have said the Eltax weren't very good but just that in the past i've always thought my dad's vintage B&W D5s sounded nicer. I assumed on the basis that the vintage speakers which are probably 40 years old were better means they can't be particularly good - although im probably completely mistaken. I'm interested that you say not to worry about power though as ive always used the Eltax on the same vintage Yahama amp as the b&ws (Yahama is 30w per channel and the B&W are 25w) and when i mentioned it to the boy in RS he suggested they may be underpowered(?) and that i should look for something more powerful. From the sounds of things the NAD would be perfect if i'm concerned about the power issue . There's a few on ebay at the moment so i should be able to get something at a decent price.

Do you think there's anything to watch out for from buying second hand? my plan was to check that it works, test the features, different volumes etc. and if everything sounds good it probably is fine - unless there's more specific tests to carry out?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,627
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Burnz0 said:
Thanks for the recommendations.... I'm interested that you say not to worry about power though as ive always used the Eltax on the same vintage Yahama amp as the b&ws (Yahama is 30w per channel and the B&W are 25w) and when i mentioned it to the boy in RS he suggested they may be underpowered(?) and that i should look for something more powerful. From the sounds of things the NAD would be perfect if i'm concerned about the power issue . There's a few on ebay at the moment so i should be able to get something at a decent price.

Do you think there's anything to watch out for from buying second hand? my plan was to check that it works, test the features, different volumes etc. and if everything sounds good it probably is fine - unless there's more specific tests to carry out?
That's why I mentioned "Club Levels". I ran a 40 watt Arcam with my 120 watt RS6s without any trouble at low to moderate levels. As long as the amp doesn't 'Clip' or distort it'll be fine. Yes there are better speakers but I'd personally look at a newer amp and then upgrade the speakers to something like Wharfedale, Epos, Mordaunt Short as and when funds allow. Certainly in the interim the Eltax will suffice.

FYI, I was running Wharfedale E20 speakers (circa 1977) up until I purchased the Monitor Audios in 2007.

Can't really advise about buying from an auction site, but look at whether the amp has been serviced and the sellers 'feedback'. I only ever use auction sites for buying CDs and books.
 

Burnz0

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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for 90% of the time i'll be using them for moderate levels but it would be good to have something for the occasion when i want to crank them up to project into the garden (and annoy the rest of the street).

On that basis I'll look at all the options you've both suggested and see what i can get for a good price. I'm not adverse to paying the extra for something brand new but equally there seems to be good deals to be had second hand.

In terms of the different models quoted are we talking about a sizeable difference in quality etc. or will they all do the job? if it makes a difference, i plan on using these to connect directly to my ipod (and maybe decks at some point). The best way to do this i'm still not sure. RS sold me a cambridge audio lead but i'm now reading about DACs(?) and yet again the potential expense seems to be stretching. I should add that im in no way an expert and probably wouldn't apprecaite the high-end for the most part but just want something of a decent quality, better than your average all in one system from Argos! My reservation from going directly to the ipod has always been that the sound quality from the headphone jack can't be that amazing can it?
 

MikeToll

New member
Jul 7, 2010
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If you are not in too much of a hurry it is well worth keeping an eye out for ex-demo stuff or sales offers. Last years models are often very good as the new range comes in. I have always bought this way and have ended up with stuff that is about half price and much better than I could otherwise afford but still with full manufacturers warranty.
 

Burnz0

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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I'm not in that much of a hurry as i'll have another setup in the other room but would rather get it sorted sooner than later as i plan on wiring the speakers under the floor and it'd be better to do before there's too much in the way.

Apart from cost, the main reason for going second hand at the moment is that i don't expect this to be the best system out there, just something good for my day to day. In a few years time i'd be tempted to get something proper set up, concentrating on positioning, better cables etc so this will be more of a filler in the interim period. Hopefully that time for the big expense may never come or be necessary but in many ways im reluctant to pay £200-300 for somethign brand new when i might be able to pick something up for £100ish that'll do a good job anway.

The only consideration is on the connection front, specifically regarding connecting an ipod. My other system is vintage equipment so i guess im quite limited to how i can go about it. With the one in question though it may be possible for me to get something suitable for an ipod? i've really not go idea how people go about connecting them without sacrificing sound quality??
 

AL13N

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Nov 29, 2009
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Posted a reply in the other thread

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/setup-advice#comment-2830032
 

Dougal1331

Well-known member
Dec 30, 2007
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Burnz0 said:
From the sounds of things the NAD would be perfect if i'm concerned about the power issue . There's a few on ebay at the moment so i should be able to get something at a decent price.
I used to use a C350, which I bought specifically to drive Celestion Ditton 66mk2 studio monitors- 12" bass drivers, coffin-sized cabinets and an absolutely horrendous impedance load for the amplifier (IIRC they dropped to 1.7ohms in the bass...).

The C350 sounded breathtaking, and drove them very, very loud without strain or any hint of harshness. One of the best budget amps ever, in my opinion. NAD amps are famous for conservative power ratings, the '350 is 60Wpc, but with current capability that will deliver 120W to 4ohms and 240W to a 2ohm load. Specs like that are virtually unheard of at this price level. This amp could probably drive a car, let alone a pair of speakers.

For the original asking price of £350 it was a no-brainer. To get one for less than £100 is a proper result. May well have to reinvest again myself soon...

EDIT almost forgot- it also has NAD's 'soft clipping' feature (switch on the back panel), so if you do throw a party and the amp runs out of steam (unlikely), the circuitry smooths off the waveforms and stops yer tweeters from popping. If you want even more power get a C370, but these still fetch pretty high prices. The C350 generally goes for way less than it deserves. In future, you can add a C270 power amp and do some biamp shenanigans too...
 

Burnz0

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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I think the NAD C350 sounds like the one to go for as it should give me the power needed and still be decent quality.

Out of interest, if i was to replace the speakers in the future then the chances are it would be with some bookshelf speakers which most likely would be in the 50w range (from what i've seen). In this case, would the NAD still be suitable? or too powerful?

i think what im getting at ishat is t working around the 200w Eltax a bit restrictive and am i compromising on quality to get the power needed to drive these? ignoring the quality i may need to replace them due to wanting something a bit smaller for where they're going. Hopefully my understanding of the power etc is wrong and the NADs will be more than suitable but thought id check before i go handing over any cash, regardless of how relatively cheap they may be.

also, ive read a few things about the C320BEE being a better model, slightly less power but all round better. Im not sure what the price difference is but would this be worth considering or should i just aim for the c350?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
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Burnz0 said:
Out of interest, if i was to replace the speakers in the future then the chances are it would be with some bookshelf speakers which most likely would be in the 50w range (from what i've seen). In this case, would the NAD still be suitable? or too powerful?
Better to have an amp with more wattage than the speakers. As I tried to explain if the amp is underpowered - and play at high levels - it could damage the speakers. As I also said before, don't get too hung up on paper specs.
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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plastic penguin said:
Burnz0 said:
Out of interest, if i was to replace the speakers in the future then the chances are it would be with some bookshelf speakers which most likely would be in the 50w range (from what i've seen). In this case, would the NAD still be suitable? or too powerful?
Better to have an amp with more wattage than the speakers. As I tried to explain if the amp is underpowered - and play at high levels - it could damage the speakers. As I also said before, don't get too hung up on paper specs.
Yes I agree clean undistorted power is the way to go, avoid clipping.
 

Blackdawn

Well-known member
May 7, 2010
86
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The NAD amps hold their value pretty well. I would consider something like the Yamaha As500 new due to it having a high power output and fairly cheap + warranty (also got 5 star rating). Can be had for around £200. I don't think you would get the C350 much under £100 in good condition. Also worth looking at Denon, Technics, Onkyo and Harmon kardon amp.
 

Blackdawn

Well-known member
May 7, 2010
86
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Sansui is another make to add to your second hand list. If you don't mind slightly less power (30 w into 8 Ohms output) the Denon PMA250SE is excellent second hand. Another Denon amp to add to the new list along side the Yamaha AS-500 is the Denon PMA720AE, both can be had now for around £200.
 

Burnz0

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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assuming i don't mind about going second hand surely for the money i'm going to be getting better equipment? There's a few C350s up at the moment and i'd guess they'll go for just under £100. I don't mind paying £200 if i have to for the Yamaha for example but if the C350s up to the job and is a decent amp then i might as well aim for that.

I appreciate everyone has a different opinion but to save me getting more and more confused: shall i put the C350 at the top of my list and then see how the auctions go over the next few weeks? or, would one of the other models suggested be a better target?
 

Blackdawn

Well-known member
May 7, 2010
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If you go for a second hand amp such as NAD C350 just bear in mind that if it goes wrong or theres a fault it will be harder to repair/replace compared to a new amp with warranty. However, you may find one thats hardly been used, which is brill. Good luck with the hunt for an amp.
 

Burnz0

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Apr 7, 2013
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Thanks for the advice Blackdawn. I have to say i'm left in no better postiion than before though as i'm now stuck deciding if i should go down the second hand route or buy new and get the added security of the warranty. I know very little about these things so to test anything second hand all i would check is that it works at reasonable volume etc. - after that i'd have little idea if it was okay. However, if the ad says it works fine then im inclined to believe that often this will be the case because as is evident from on here, there are lots of people out there constantly looking to upgrade their systems meaning a bargain can be had.

Ignoring the new vs old issue, between the Yamaha and CR350 which would you favour - purely on a sound and quality basis. The Yahama has very good reviews on here and the added bonus of the ipod combatibility (im not sure what that means though) could be very useful - and potentially save me spending more money on getting this connection up to standard. It would also be interesting to compare it to the vintage yahama cr600 i have on the go, which to my inexperienced ears has always sounded pretty good.

if there's going to be little difference in the two and both will be suitable for my requirements ill see what the CR-500 goes for and decide from there. As seems to be the case with these things, I guess if my budget was moving into the £200-250 mark then there may be even more second hand options to consider? decisions, decisions!

One last thing - there's this on ebay at the moment - i know it's still second hand but is this a good deal for the speakers etc? i can make use of them elsewhere/sell them to my brother who is looking to get a new system setup?
yamaha as500,monitor audio b1 ,soundstyle z2, and gale symphony 300 speaker wire - £220 buy it now

brand new Yahama is also up at £200 buy it now
 

Burnz0

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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Thanks for the advice Blackdawn. I have to say i'm left in no better postiion than before though as i'm now stuck deciding if i should go down the second hand route or buy new and get the added security of the warranty. I know very little about these things so to test anything second hand all i would check is that it works at reasonable volume etc. - after that i'd have little idea if it was okay. However, if the ad says it works fine then im inclined to believe that often this will be the case because as is evident from on here, there are lots of people out there constantly looking to upgrade their systems meaning a bargain can be had.

Ignoring the new vs old issue, between the Yamaha and CR350 which would you favour - purely on a sound and quality basis. The Yahama has very good reviews on here and the added bonus of the ipod combatibility (im not sure what that means though) could be very useful - and potentially save me spending more money on getting this connection up to standard. It would also be interesting to compare it to the vintage yahama cr600 i have on the go, which to my inexperienced ears has always sounded pretty good.

if there's going to be little difference in the two and both will be suitable for my requirements ill see what the CR-500 goes for and decide from there. As seems to be the case with these things, I guess if my budget was moving into the £200-250 mark then there may be even more second hand options to consider? decisions, decisions!

One last thing - there's this on ebay at the moment - i know it's still second hand but is this a good deal for the speakers etc? i can make use of them elsewhere/sell them to my brother who is looking to get a new system setup?
yamaha as500,monitor audio b1 ,soundstyle z2, and gale symphony 300 speaker wire - £220 buy it now

brand new Yahama is also up at £200 buy it now
 

Burnz0

New member
Apr 7, 2013
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i've realised i was getting my yamaha and NAD model numbers confused! anyway, the NAD C350 i had my eye on on ebay went for £140ish which was a bit more than i was expecting and certainly creeping into the territory of buying new.

I think the Yamaha seems like a very good shout - unless anyone else has any last minute alternatives or would say that i should go for second hand still?
 

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