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Budget Amps and speakers for a starting point.

JoeMcc

New member
Dec 18, 2013
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After much thought I have finally decideed that I want to go the seperates route as my first experience of Hi-Fi but on a budget - for now (Buying a PS4 so have to be sensible). I am planning to get a nice little budget hifi set up for a year or two and then upgrade at a later date. I have set a budget of around £350 for an amp and a set of speakers. It will be used for music listening only in a small bedroom so im guessing i dont need to splash out too much :pray:

The Amps I have in mind are the Cambridge Audio Azur 351A and the Yamaha AS500. The reason for this is because they seem to tick most of the boxes im looking for. The Cambridge looks interesting because of the built in DAC and USB connection but doesnt have as much power as the Yamaha (still a newbie so im guessing the more power the better?) The Yamaha also has a subwoofer connection which is very appealing, although ive heard mixed reviews about this amp.

Now for the speakers, my choices are between the Wharfedale 9.1, Tannoy V1, Cambridge s30, Q acoustic 2010i or at a push the monitor audio BX1.

Can anyone point me in the right direction here ideally they should have adequate bass although i know not to expect too much from budget speakers. like i said its mostly for music listening of all genres in my bedroom at my desk. Will be listening to audio from my pc or iphone. I will eventually get a CD player to go with this system but not at this moment in time.

Thanks in advance guys hope someone can recommend something! :rockout:
 

AmigaNut

New member
Nov 23, 2011
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I have the Yamaha AS 500 and both Wharfedale 9.1 and 10.1 in various setups in my home, (all my amps are Yamaha all 4).

I am more than happy with both and with the 9.1s at a lovely £99 new they are a bargain.

AmigaNut
 

CarlDW

New member
Dec 29, 2011
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If you are using your PC then the 351C is a good bet as you wont need a seperate DAC. Speaker wise you cant go wrong with the Diamond 9.1 which are excellent.

Have you considered 2nd hand kit?

Alternatively, you could get a Fiio D3 DAC (£29) and some active speakers (such as Studiospares).
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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Sony STR DB930.

Power, Quality, DAC's and a good phono stage too. It may even be possible to squeeze in a pair of Usher S520's. - Cables, stands would be on top but for a price of a good night out you get those too and I'm pretty certain it will be better than your other options.

regards
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
299
95
18,970
If you are quick the Sansui SAP-201v amplifier is widely available for £149. Put this with some Q Acoustics 2020i or Dali Zensor 1s, and you'll have a great start to your system.

The Sansui is half price because there has been a copyright issue between Sansui UK (who are responsible for this model) and Sansui in Singapore. Unfortunately this means Sansui UK are going to be disappearing BUT with Henley Designs as the distributors you will have no problems with warranty support so I really wouldn't let it put you off a good bargain.

If you can find a bit more money, the Pioneer A-30 or Denon PMA720AE would be better (both around £180 now) but you would need to add a £29 Behringer USB DAC.
 

shep1968

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2007
85
1
18,545
JoeMcc said:
After much thought I have finally decideed that I want to go the seperates route as my first experience of Hi-Fi but on a budget - for now (Buying a PS4 so have to be sensible). I am planning to get a nice little budget hifi set up for a year or two and then upgrade at a later date. I have set a budget of around £350 for an amp and a set of speakers. It will be used for music listening only in a small bedroom so im guessing i dont need to splash out too much :pray:

The Amps I have in mind are the Cambridge Audio Azur 351A and the Yamaha AS500. The reason for this is because they seem to tick most of the boxes im looking for. The Cambridge looks interesting because of the built in DAC and USB connection but doesnt have as much power as the Yamaha (still a newbie so im guessing the more power the better?) The Yamaha also has a subwoofer connection which is very appealing, although ive heard mixed reviews about this amp.

Now for the speakers, my choices are between the Wharfedale 9.1, Tannoy V1, Cambridge s30, Q acoustic 2010i or at a push the monitor audio BX1.

Can anyone point me in the right direction here ideally they should have adequate bass although i know not to expect too much from budget speakers. like i said its mostly for music listening of all genres in my bedroom at my desk. Will be listening to audio from my pc or iphone. I will eventually get a CD player to go with this system but not at this moment in time.

Thanks in advance guys hope someone can recommend something! :rockout:
if you can get decent second hand then that might be the way to go, especially for a couple of years. For example i will hopefully soon be selling B&W685 and a Rotel RA-05 for not much more than that. Far better imho than what you can get new.
 

NHL

New member
Nov 12, 2009
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Try Rega RS-1 speakers, paper cones, the best speaker material there ever was and will be!
 

BigH

New member
Dec 29, 2012
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NHL said:
Try Rega RS-1 speakers, paper cones, the best speaker material there ever was and will be!
Did not rate the RS1s at all and they are £500?
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
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For a small room you should get either the Q Acoustics 2010i or if you can afford it the Zensor 1.

Then buy the best amp you can afford, stretching the budget as far as possible.

Personally I would buy the Adam F5 and the cheap Behringer dac for the same money. But then I would, wouldn't I........ 8)
 

BigH

New member
Dec 29, 2012
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chebby said:
BigH said:
NHL said:
Try Rega RS-1 speakers, paper cones, the best speaker material there ever was and will be!
Did not rate the RS1s at all and they are £500?
They are £438 and sounded superb on all the occasions I heard them.
Yes £438 or £482 depending on finish. In demo I had the CM1s were clearly better to me but they had their own issues. But clearly over budget anyway.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
299
95
18,970
BigH said:
chebby said:
BigH said:
NHL said:
Try Rega RS-1 speakers, paper cones, the best speaker material there ever was and will be!
Did not rate the RS1s at all and they are £500?
They are £438 and sounded superb on all the occasions I heard them.
Yes £438 or £482 depending on finish. In demo I had the CM1s were clearly better to me but they had their own issues. But clearly over budget anyway.
Sorry but neither are a patch on the Dali Zensor 3s at £300. I particularly dislike the CM1s.

Actually (and bringing things back into the OP's budget) I'd rather have the Q 2020i or the Dali Zensor 1s than the Regas or the B&Ws.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
299
95
18,970
ALERT to the OP - Just had a look on the Richer Sounds website. The 351A amp is in their sale at £199. Alternatively the Denon PMA720AE is £149 in their sale. Both fine budget amps at great prices.
 

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
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10,540
matthewpiano said:
ALERT to the OP - Just had a look on the Richer Sounds website. The 351A amp is in their sale at £199. Alternatively the Denon PMA720AE is £149 in their sale. Both fine budget amps at great prices.
The ca 351is an amazing amp.worth twice the sale price almost.I thought sounded much better than the yam.am pretty sure you would love that amp.
 

Johnno2

New member
Feb 2, 2009
45
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matthewpiano said:
ALERT to the OP - Just had a look on the Richer Sounds website. The 351A amp is in their sale at £199. Alternatively the Denon PMA720AE is £149 in their sale. Both fine budget amps at great prices.
WOW that price denon is a geniune BARGAIN, my mate has one , qaulity amp,

Vibrant, clean sound, but not bright
 

JoeMcc

New member
Dec 18, 2013
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Right its going to be between the 351A and the PMA720AE then. Considering they are both on sale i dont mind getting either one.

I have to admit, the USB which overrides the computers soundcard on the 351A is very appealing as I wont have to purchase a seperate DAC, has anyone had experience on this amp and what speakers used with it? Also can a sub be connected to this as i may need to get a subwoofer later down the line to satisfy my bass needs! (I believe a sub can be used with the Denon)

As for the speakers im leaning towards the diamond 9.1 or those Zensor 1s.

BTW merry christmas guys :cheers:
 

CarlDW

New member
Dec 29, 2011
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TBH both the 9.1s and the Zensor 1s are great speakers, the Dalis might have the edge.

At those prices I would get down to RS for a demo quick!
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Confined space for your speakers? Tannoy DC4. Amazingly good up close. Seriously good. £299 though, so might be out your reach, but if the Denon amp is sitting at £149, then you're still around your budget.
 

JoeMcc

New member
Dec 18, 2013
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Johnno2 said:
matthewpiano said:
ALERT to the OP - Just had a look on the Richer Sounds website. The 351A amp is in their sale at £199. Alternatively the Denon PMA720AE is £149 in their sale. Both fine budget amps at great prices.
WOW that price denon is a geniune BARGAIN, my mate has one , qaulity amp,

Vibrant, clean sound, but not bright
Yes I have been reading reviews about the Denon and it seems like a greta buy plus being £50 cheaper than the 351A hmm Decisions....

carlDW said:
At those prices I would get down to RS for a demo quick!
I plan to either friday or saturday! :)

the record spot said:
Confined space for your speakers? Tannoy DC4. Amazingly good up close. Seriously good. £299 though, so might be out your reach, but if the Denon amp is sitting at £149, then you're still around your budget.
Umm well i have a decent amount of space either side of my laptop not sure how much exactly and may be a bit out of my price range, maybe another time though...
 

JoeMcc

New member
Dec 18, 2013
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So far the good points i can see about the Cambridge 351a

USB for easy connection, Front Mp3 input, No need for seperate DAC.

Good ponts for the Denon pma720ae

Very good reviews, £50 cheaper, Can connect a subwoofer. Only problem with this one is no USB like the Azur

Hmmmm.... Guess i need to decide what needs I have most, as i said will be playing most music from my laptop and iphone
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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18,970
Not to confuse things, but one thing has just leapt out at me. Given your budget and intended usage, would the Q Acoustics Q-BT3 powered speakers not be a better solution for you?
 

JoeMcc

New member
Dec 18, 2013
12
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0
matthewpiano said:
Not to confuse things, but one thing has just leapt out at me. Given your budget and intended usage, would the Q Acoustics Q-BT3 powered speakers not be a better solution for you?
Ive thought about this, but how would i connect active speakers to my laptop and would that completely stop me from being able use a subwoofer aswell?

I know these speakers you have mentioned are bluetooth which would be fine with my phone but what about my laptop?

The only advantage active speakers would give me is a little more space on the desk (and maybe save me a bit of money)]

Edit - Just read you need to plug into an interface, is this the same thing as a DAC?
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
299
95
18,970
If your laptop has an optical digital output (as some do), you can just plug it straight into the BT3s. If not you would need to pick up a a USB to optical converter, which seem to be readily available.

The BT3s also have a subwoofer out so you can use a sub of your choice with them, and they also have analogue inputs should you later wish to add a CD player.

Note that these are 'powered' speakers rather than fully 'active' - although the amplification is built in they still use passive crossovers.

It is a very practical option for your needs and, on past experience of Q products, they should sound very good - they certainly got a very good review in Hi-Fi Choice magazine.

Anyway, it is really just another option to consider.
 

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