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Budget Hi-fi system. Where to spend the money

john_dikeman

New member
Dec 9, 2015
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Hello everyone,

Real newbie question....

I'm looking at getting a decent, affordable system together and I've been reading various reviews of "Best Speakers Under 500" and "Best Amplifiers Under 500" and was just wondering, given a budget of around 500 or 600 where would you invest that money? More in the amp? More in the speakers?

A little background. It's for a small room. I'm a musician (jazz, more-or-less) and listen to a very broad range of music but tonal accuracy would probably be my main concern. I also sometimes have to check mixes and masters a bit on my own system, etc.. (only for my own recordings, I let pros do the work).

I listen to lps, have an older Rega Planner turntable. And CDs on various devices. I also listen to music on my computer and telephone, but am more interested LPs and CDs. I also have a pair of Beyerdynamic 880s and headphone amp.

So, looking at a few options that appeal to me so far, how would you compare these set-ups:

1.PS Audio SPROUT (500) + Roth Oli RA1 (100) approx 600

2.Marantz PM5005 (230) + wharfedale diamond 220 (250) approx 500

3.Topping T Amp (70) + T-Preamp (70) + Dali Zensor 3 (350) approx 500

Sorry already that's a lot of variables. Any suggestions very welcome. Also in terms of different speakers or amps in the same price range to sub out here. Assuming I could spend 600 I could upgrade the Dali Zensor or either component in the 2nd option. The thing with options 1 or 3 is in a few years I wouldn't feel bad upgrading.

The one other question, would I be better off looking for near field moniters? I've seem some KVKs around that seem to have a very good reputation for around the 300 euro mark.

Thanks!
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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My suggestion is to keep it simple. NAD C316BEE amplifier, NAD PP2e phono stage (which has MM and MC provision), and Q Acoustics 3020, Dali Zensor 1, or Monitor Audio Bronze 2 speakers. Alternatively, if you want some digital inputs, you could go for a NAD D3020 instead of the C316BEE, though that would push you above budget. You could save money on the speakers by picking up Q Acoustics 2020i for around £119. Either way, you'll end up with an affordable and musically involving system.
 
Dec 4, 2015
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I will suggest a different approach.

You can go for 2 Studio monitor ( e.g. Mackie, Pre-sonus, Yamaha) with a matching Active Studio SUB from same company. It will give a very good synergy.

And on top of that you can buy any Budget DAC. (Anyhow if you want good quality, you have to buy a DAC in future.)

This is my opinion :D
 

gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
734
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Not wharfedales since i find the top dull, restrained something wrong with the midrage and if you like bass you must place them near a corner,no discusion about that, but in general you do not want the wharfedales if you like bass

I would recommend the Marantz PM6005 over the PM5005 since it has a dac and makes it better if you are gonna use it with your pc

Mabye a pair of Jbl LSR305 a use dac,soundcard with a volume *** and isoacosustics stands if your use it on a desk or the denon DM40 and mabye dali zensor 3,boston a25,q acoustics 2020i
 

Blackdawn

Well-known member
May 7, 2010
86
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matthewpiano said:
My suggestion is to keep it simple. NAD C316BEE amplifier, NAD PP2e phono stage (which has MM and MC provision), and Q Acoustics 3020, Dali Zensor 1, or Monitor Audio Bronze 2 speakers. Alternatively, if you want some digital inputs, you could go for a NAD D3020 instead of the C316BEE, though that would push you above budget. You could save money on the speakers by picking up Q Acoustics 2020i for around £119. Either way, you'll end up with an affordable and musically involving system.
These are good suggestions. Also the the Pioneer A30 is pretty decent and has the phono input already and goes well with the Dali speakers I own. The NAD 516BEE and Cambridge Audio Azur cd players are nice too and good value.
 

knaithrover

Moderator
Nov 24, 2013
164
61
10,670
matthewpiano said:
My suggestion is to keep it simple. NAD C316BEE amplifier, NAD PP2e phono stage (which has MM and MC provision), and Q Acoustics 3020, Dali Zensor 1, or Monitor Audio Bronze 2 speakers. Alternatively, if you want some digital inputs, you could go for a NAD D3020 instead of the C316BEE, though that would push you above budget. You could save money on the speakers by picking up Q Acoustics 2020i for around £119. Either way, you'll end up with an affordable and musically involving system.

[/q2uote]

+1 on all the above. Also NAD C320BEE is worth a look 2nd hand, brilliant amp for around a ton.
 

MeanandGreen

Well-known member
Dec 26, 2012
106
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18,620
matthewpiano said:
My suggestion is to keep it simple. NAD C316BEE amplifier, NAD PP2e phono stage (which has MM and MC provision), and Q Acoustics 3020, Dali Zensor 1, or Monitor Audio Bronze 2 speakers. Alternatively, if you want some digital inputs, you could go for a NAD D3020 instead of the C316BEE, though that would push you above budget. You could save money on the speakers by picking up Q Acoustics 2020i for around £119. Either way, you'll end up with an affordable and musically involving system.
I think this is sound advice at this price level.
 

john_dikeman

New member
Dec 9, 2015
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I did see a second hand NAD pretty cheaply neraby. Though, the NAD + NAD phono pre amp is going to cost about the same as a Sprout or a used Rega Brio - R (found one of those pretty cheap as well). Why would you recommend the NAD setup over those?

Also, what about this set up? I don't really know the speakers. And this is an older Rega...

http://www.ebay.nl/itm/Britische-audiophile-Anlage-CASTLE-Acoustics-Trend-Mk-II-REGA-Brio-/171998874685?hash=item280bee8c3d:g:CDkAAOSwI-BWH4n3
 

richardw42

New member
May 2, 2010
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A mid priced amp & seakers are fine for us cloth eared audiophiles but as you're a musician I think you should investigate active speakers.

for instance AVI DM5s are £699 (around 500 used) add a pre amp and you're sorted. They're not the only option though.

It might be worth you reading some of the very informative posts on the AVI forum, even if you decide this is is not for you. There's a lot of turntable users there.
 

john_dikeman

New member
Dec 9, 2015
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Ok, got in a bidding war and scored an Arcam A18 for 400. Figured that was a pretty safe bet.

Thanks for the advice, sorry, I'm an impulse buyer....

Any suggestions on budget speakers that might fit? I've read Arcams can be tricky to match. I can wait and save up a bit if need be.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
313
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john_dikeman said:
Ok, got in a bidding war and scored an Arcam A18 for 400. Figured that was a pretty safe bet.

Thanks for the advice, sorry, I'm an impulse buyer....

Any suggestions on budget speakers that might fit? I've read Arcams can be tricky to match. I can wait and save up a bit if need be.
If you want to really keep the cost down a pair of Q Acoustics 2020i for around £119 will sound great with the Arcam. Alternatively, I'd suggest looking at the newer 3020, Dali Zensor 1, Monitor Audio BX2 (still available at end-of-line prices if you hunt), or (if you want to spend a bit more) KEF Q-Series (Q100 or Q300). All of these will work well with the A18, and none of them will exacerbate it's one slight negative - a tendency to a slightly thick bass. Enjoy!
 

masterblaster

New member
Dec 5, 2015
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As tonal accuracy is important for you I would also start saving some money for a future upgrade to integrate Dirac Live room correction in your system. It is available as software only solution or by the use of a processor.
 

john_dikeman

New member
Dec 9, 2015
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So would you consider the KEf Q100 a real step up from the previously mentioned speakers. I see a used pair nearby almost in my price range.
 

unhalfbricking

New member
Jan 18, 2013
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I have an Arcam A-18 paired with a pair of Kef Q-300s. I think the two work really well together. The Arcam has a big, open, 'widescreen' sound, but is slightly restrained and the Kefs are lively and engaging with plenty of mid-range punch. A great combination, IMO. The Kefs have been around for a while so you may be able to get a good deal on them.
 

john_dikeman

New member
Dec 9, 2015
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Thanks for the tip. Currently going back and forth with a guy about a pair of the Q100s.

Also found some older B&W 602s quite cheap. Thoughts on those?
 

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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Too late now because for some reason I've only just seen this thread, but the first thing I honed onto was that you're a fellow musician / home producer, so my advice would have been to throw as much money as you can at the best pair of pro active monitors you can afford and build the rest of your system round those.
 

john_dikeman

New member
Dec 9, 2015
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Well, not a producer... I'm a saxophonist and sometimes I need to listen back to a mix or master someone else has done for me. So I don't really need studio grade set up. I'm more looking for something in the hifi arena that's as natural as possible. And mostly, it's just for me to listen to music. For any serious work I'd go with a tech to their proper studio.

I was debating looking for near field monitors as opposed to hifi speakers. However, it seems these KEF Q100s I found in town would fit the amp I impulse bought yesterday.
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
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I think you and Paal Nilssen-Love should do a colaboration. I'll need cocain to relax at that gig. *wacko*

This is amazing. I really dig it. Sort of reminds me of John Surman (I'm hoping you don't think that's a bad thing).
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
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john_dikeman said:
Ha haven't played with Paal. about to play with Steve Noble though!
Even better.
I hope to see a recording on youtube. The performance would be both sonically and visually stunning.
 

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