Rule of thumb?

Bluetattoos

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Hi there, I'm new to the forum and this is my first post so thanks for looking.

I'm in the market for upgrading my whole stereo system and wondered if there was any rough rule of thumb to the amount you spend on each component?

Basically I have a budget of £2000 with which I want an amp, speakers, CD player and all wires/connectors. I also have a Project Debut III which I'm not intending on replacing as I rarely listen to vinyl that I will connect to the system.

Any advice on how I should split the money between the components would be much appreciated.

Cheers BT
 

matt49

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There is no useful rule of thumb for apportioning a budget, for the simple reason that the choice of speakers is terribly subjective (depending among other things on the sound you like and the acoustics of your room).

I'd suggest two approaches. 1. Listen to a range of speakers between £1K and £1.5K. 2. Don't assume you have to spend much on a CD player.
 

DocG

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I'm with Matt49 here. Start with the speakers. Make up your mind if you need/prefer standmounters or floorstanders. See how close to the wall/corners of the room you'll need to put them (the more room you can give them, the wider the choice of sensible speaker options). Ask around/read some reviews of speakers that fit your description. Make a shortlist and go out to audition.

Once you find your speakers, look for an amp that is able to properly drive them.

If you insist on a rule of thumb, for me that would be 10% source [I'm talking digital sources here -- streamer or CDP], 45% amp, 45% speakers (10/30/60 could be just as good a combo, or 10/60/30 depending on the specific situation, but it gives you an idea). Use the change for cables.

Another approach is: do some research to spot a knowledgeable, trustworthy hifi dealer. Explain your needs, situation, budget and see where that gets you...
 
This is what I did. I bought new Focal Chorus 826v speakers, cost £950, second was a Leema Pulse amp, second hand for £425. Finally a used Simaudio Moon Equinox for £400.

If you can do something similar, you will not go far wrong.

Dont spend silly money on cable, you can get very good cable for 25-50 quid.
 

lindsayt

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I agree with Matt49 and DocG.

There is absolutely no rule of thumb when it comes to getting the right system for you.

It all depends what you like and what you can get for what money.

For example, I am currently listening to a system with:

£15 CD player

£170 active crossover

£1650 valve power monoblocks

£85 solid state power amp

£500 speakers

c£20 in cables

£15 stand for the amps
 

chebby

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What size of room?

Preferred maximum volume levels? (Moderate - a bit loud at times - loud all the time - ASBO)

Any 'special needs'? (Wife who won't tolerate anything but gloss white - wood must match room panelling and floor - won't buy Chinese made goods etc.)
 

lindsayt

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Check out the Scalford 2015 reports. There were a number of sub £2000 systems that sounded really good for the price the owners had paid and considering the rather less than optimal listening conditions that you get in hotel based shows.
 

Bluetattoos

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Room is about 4m square not including the bay window.

Music to be played loud but also cope with it played quiter in the background when I have to be sociable!! No particular special needs other than black or wood.
 

davedotco

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There is most certainly no set proportion here, that much I agree, as for the rest no.

I always think balance and matching is the key, spend too much on the speakers and the limitations of the electronics are laid bare.

Without getting too specific, I would look at an amp in the £600-1k range, ideally with a built in dac and go from there.

In such a case, a transport only could be used, the new Cambridge CXC looks ideal, on paper at least, and should not be that expensive.

Finish with a nice pair of standmounts in the £500-600 range, decent stands and some cables.

That, at least, would be my starting point, be prepared to move those price points around depending on what you hear.
 

andyjm

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In days gone by, the advice was always to spend most on your source - on the grounds that if it was rubbish, all you would ever get is loud rubbish.

The world has changed. Electronics these days are so good and so cheap, that for a very modest outlay, you can have an excellent source and amplification.

Not much has changed with speakers however, they are mechanical systems and good ones cost money. I would heavily weight my spend toward speakers, and unless you are wedded to CDs I would go down the streamer route.
 

SteveR750

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Assuming you have a computer, then £40 gets you a digital source that is as good as any CDP digital out. There's little point in spending more than a couple of £hundred on a DAC, as there is liittle improvement for a lot of expenditure in my experience. The challenge is to find a pair of speakers that work in your own room with your kind of music and listening levels, and then finding an amp that can drive them to your requirements. Given the difference in rooms and speaker voicing and your own preferences you might as well throw a dice as guess the split between these two components, you're only going to figure that out by auditioning amp + speaker combinations.
 

CnoEvil

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davedotco said:
There is most certainly no set proportion here, that much I agree, as for the rest no.

I always think balance and matching is the key, spend too much on the speakers and the limitations of the electronics are laid bare.

Without getting too specific, I would look at an amp in the £600-1k range, ideally with a built in dac and go from there.

In such a case, a transport only could be used, the new Cambridge CXC looks ideal, on paper at least, and should not be that expensive.

Finish with a nice pair of standmounts in the £500-600 range, decent stands and some cables.

That, at least, would be my starting point, be prepared to move those price points around depending on what you hear.

+1
 

Infiniteloop

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CnoEvil said:
davedotco said:
There is most certainly no set proportion here, that much I agree, as for the rest no.

I always think balance and matching is the key, spend too much on the speakers and the limitations of the electronics are laid bare.

Without getting too specific, I would look at an amp in the £600-1k range, ideally with a built in dac and go from there.

In such a case, a transport only could be used, the new Cambridge CXC looks ideal, on paper at least, and should not be that expensive.

Finish with a nice pair of standmounts in the £500-600 range, decent stands and some cables.

That, at least, would be my starting point, be prepared to move those price points around depending on what you hear.

+1

+1
 

davedotco

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Given the current penchant for spending most of the budget on speakers, I am kind of surprised.

I know, from first hand experience, just how good modest speakers can sound when partnered by good amplification and I remain convinced this is the best way forward for good results in a normal home setup.

Even my most recent dem, an A19 driving Zensor 5s proving totally inadequate against a more potent Cambridge pre-power reminded me just how important the amplification is.

Playing some heavily improvised Miles Davis, it was amazing how much the A19 squashed the dynamics and rendered the complex interplay unintelligable. Cambridge is really not my favourite brand, but in this case the differences were obvious, controlling the speakers far better than the Arcam.
 

DocG

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davedotco said:
Given the current penchant for spending most of the budget on speakers, I am kind of surprised.

I know, from first hand experience, just how good modest speakers can sound when partnered by good amplification and I remain convinced this is the best way forward for good results in a normal home setup.

Even my most recent dem, an A19 driving Zensor 5s proving totally inadequate against a more potent Cambridge pre-power reminded me just how important the amplification is.

Playing some heavily improvised Miles Davis, it was amazing how much the A19 squashed the dynamics and rendered the complex interplay unintelligable. Cambridge is really not my favourite brand, but in this case the differences were obvious, controlling the speakers far better than the Arcam.

I couldn't agree more about the importance of the amplifier (my amp cost me 6 x what I paid for the speakers, and I dare say it's a balanced system...).

And I bought my amp first, and the speakers later.

But still, IMO, as a rule of thumb, choosing speakers that fit (the available space in) the room is key. Finding an amp that can properly drive them comes after that. Which says nothing about the budgetary balance; it's purely chronological.
 
A

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Speakers cost a lot, especially with mark-up. Amplifiers are pretty basic, they take line level and amplify the signal to drive the speakers (they also have mark-up). Speakers are things though, they're made with wood, they need laminated or painted. Amps are basic well understood circuits in a metal box. Take your most expensive amp, reduce down to cost of production and it will be a fraction of a speaker cost.

You can get a power amp, 120w into 8ohms, 190w into 4ohms for £125. You can double those power ratings by adding £50, so why would you spend 6x on your amp than you would speakers, your amp doesn't make the sound. Any amp from £50 to £300 will output a linear signal provided it's not clipping.

If you're happy to spend silly money by proportion between and amp and speakers then be my guest but if you're making recommendations to newbies please keep it real. You spend your money on your speakers, end of.
 

DocG

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Anderson said:
If you're happy to spend silly money by proportion between and amp and speakers then be my guest but if you're making recommendations to newbies please keep it real. You spend your money on your speakers, end of.

I said that's how I did it, and that I'm happy with the result. I didn't recommend newbies to do it my way. Actually, I advised not to spend too much on a digital source or on cables, but basically split the money between amp and speakers. If you say money for the amp is wasted, we'll have to agree to disagree.

Now go and blow-up some more robots...

Happy Eastern!
 

DocG

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DocG said:
Anderson said:
If you're happy to spend silly money by proportion between and amp and speakers then be my guest but if you're making recommendations to newbies please keep it real. You spend your money on your speakers, end of.

I said that's how I did it, and that I'm happy with the result. I didn't recommend newbies to do it my way. Actually, I advised not to spend too much on a digital source or on cables, but basically split the money between amp and speakers. If you say money for the amp is wasted, we'll have to agree to disagree.

Now go and blow-up some more robots...

Happy Eastern!

On second thought, we might agree on the amplifier costing far less, if the money is used where it's needed (a beefy PSU, and not a fancy facia + the marketing department). The guy in the recent 'Biamping Thread', who plans to use some Behringer powerhouses to drive his more upmarket speakers (forgot the details): I'm genuinely interested in his findings. That could indeed result in a great system.

The thing is: these Behringers are not for sale in your average high-street hifi-shop. So if a 'newbie' comes in, having £1000 to spend on a system, he shouldn't (IMO) spend £750 on the speakers, leaving just £250 for source + amp + wires, cos he'll end up with an amp that produces 45W/8 Ohm and 55 W/4 Ohm. And he'll come here to complain how disappointed he is with his boomy LS-50s.

So: less for the amp? Yes, maybe. If you know what to get. Taking this a little further, you buy active speakers.
 

davedotco

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DocG said:
DocG said:
Anderson said:
If you're happy to spend silly money by proportion between and amp and speakers then be my guest but if you're making recommendations to newbies please keep it real. You spend your money on your speakers, end of.

I said that's how I did it, and that I'm happy with the result. I didn't recommend newbies to do it my way. Actually, I advised not to spend too much on a digital source or on cables, but basically split the money between amp and speakers. If you say money for the amp is wasted, we'll have to agree to disagree.

Now go and blow-up some more robots...

Happy Eastern!

On second thought, we might agree on the amplifier costing far less, if the money is used where it's needed (a beefy PSU, and not a fancy facia + the marketing department). The guy in the recent 'Biamping Thread', who plans to use some Behringer powerhouses to drive his more upmarket speakers (forgot the details): I'm genuinely interested in his findings. That could indeed result in a great system.

The thing is: these Behringers are not for sale in your average high-street hifi-shop. So if a 'newbie' comes in, having £1000 to spend on a system, he shouldn't (IMO) spend £750 on the speakers, leaving just £250 for source + amp + wires, cos he'll end up with an amp that produces 45W/8 Ohm and 55 W/4 Ohm. And he'll come here to complain how disappointed he is with his boomy LS-50s.

So: less for the amp? Yes, maybe. If you know what to get. Taking this a little further, you buy active speakers.

Morning doc, the 'speakers first' philosophy is now quite entrenched, but thankfully not compulsory.

Some of us have been around the block a few times and have a fairly decent idea of what's what and having lived through both the 'front end first' and the 'all about the speakers' eras I am comfortable that I have enough experience to advise anyone, even newbies.

Apologies if that sounds a bit pompous but hi-fi, except at the high end, has not really changed that much and amplifiers, speakers and room still interact as they have always done and I have installed and set up systems in hundreds of rooms over the years and will back my judgement against anyone. Reading this, and other fora, it is pretty clear that system building is pretty much a lost art, the emphasis being all on bling and branding.

On a separate point, re the A500, further research seems to suggest that this amplifier is, like many pro amplifiers, at it's best driven quite hard which could possibly throw up issues in hi-fi use. Distortion seems to rise at lower levels and for hi-fi use, this needs to be born in mind.

I have recently had hands on an Art Audio SLA 2, another budget pro amplifier that seems to do very well for it's sub £300 price.

More powerful than the A500, but more importantly, it appears to have lower distortion at lower levels, not quite a budget Bryston but in the context of an inexpensive system, not bad at all.
 

DocG

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Well Dave,

Hence this quote from my first post in this thread...

where I said:
Another approach is: do some research to spot a knowledgeable, trustworthy hifi dealer. Explain your needs, situation, budget and see where that gets you...

The emphasis is on 'knowledgeable' and 'trustworthy' here. I have unfortunately met other dealers too, who can easily leave you disappointed and broke...
 

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