Speaker + Receiver setup advice - Budget c. £500

ichicc

Member
Jun 29, 2020
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Hi all

I'll soon be moving house and am excited to set up a new sound system for the living room. This will be my first foray into "proper" audio - I've always used bluetooth speakers before this but am now looking to upgrade the sound quality a notch. While I've tried to educate myself as much as possible, I'm still very new to this so would appreciate your advice!

  • Budget: Ideally no more than £500 GBP all-in, but could maybe stretch to £600 all-in if there's a very convincing justification. I currently have no equipment except for my phone, TV and Spotify Premium. Looking to buy new.
  • Use case: Probably something like Music (50%) / TV (35%) / Film (15%). My music tastes are pretty broad so would like something versatile when it comes to different genres.
  • Room size: The living room measures 5.9m x 4.3m.
  • Aesthetics: Ideally something with a fairly 'modern' design. Needs to get wife approval!
A few more specific questions:

  1. What would I get the best performance out of for my budget: a 2.1 setup with cheaper speakers, a 2.0 setup with pricier speakers, or floorstanders?
    • I was leaning towards floorstanders since it seems like I'd get better low end without needing a sub, and also save money on speaker stands?
  2. From my research I understand that 6.5 inch drivers would be better than 5 inch drivers for my room size, especially if I don't get a sub. Am I correct? Is the sound difference worth the price difference?
  3. I'd like to play from my phone (via bluetooth) and my TV. Aside from a receiver, is there anything else I need?
    • Would the SMSL AD18 meet my receiver needs? Or would I benefit significantly for spending a bit more here?
The speakers that have stood out to me most so far in my research are:

  • Floorstanding - Q Acoustics 3050i, Fyne Audio F302, Mission LX-3, MA Bronze 6
  • Bookshelves - Q Acoustics 3020i/3030i, KEF Q150/Q350, B&W 607/606, MA Bronze 2
I like the aesthetics of the Q Acoustics the most, but have no idea how the above compare in terms of sound quality. If anyone has any specific comments on these models, or alternative suggestions, then I'd be all ears!

Many thanks in advance.
 

jonathanRD

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2011
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18,595
That's quite a big room you'll have.
For an 'all in one' system that you will use as much for TV/films as music, you will need to compromise.
But there are many options.
Upgrading your sound a 'notch' could be achieved with a soundbar, or looking at one of the cinema bundle deals for around £500-£600 and any of these options are likely to improve over bluetooth speakers.

If it was me, I would approach this in stages.
Spend at least £400+ on a AV receiver and add a pair of bookshelves to start eg 3020i's.
Then save up to get a matching centre speaker, and then save again to get the 3050i floorstanders, moving the 3020i's to rear speaker duties for TV/Films.
To recap, it is always a compromise to mix TV/films with pure music (IMO).

I'm sure others will have alternative suggestions.
 
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12th Monkey

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2015
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I'd prefer floorstanders to standmounters and a sub, personally. Size of speaker is more important than size of he drivers, though the two obviously tend to be correlated.
 

jonathanRD

Well-known member
Jan 27, 2011
115
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18,595
I'd prefer floorstanders to standmounters and a sub, personally. Size of speaker is more important than size of he drivers, though the two obviously tend to be correlated.
I agree, especially in a larger room.
But with £500-£600 budget for both music and tv/films - that becomes difficult. Just for music let's say £350 for floorstanders, leaving £250 for a 2 channel amp.
It's possible but if the OP wants to do audio anywhere close to 'properly'* and not buy something that they want to immediately upgrade, some sort of compromise or longer term plan is needed.
Or of course just take out a loan!
*Just my personal opinion.
 

DCarmi

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2019
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My philosophy when upgrading equipment and importantly keeping the other-half content is always to go for the input first and worry about the other bits later. The main point being I do have something to build on rather than a couple of so-so components.

The argument goes something like.. "its a really nice amp, I am so happy with it but at some point I'll have to do something with the speakers, which were all I could afford at the time. Sounds through headphones though!"

Repeat over a period of time: "speakers are bit weedy", "I do wish we could have afforded better speakers" etc.

Funnily enough the psychology is different the other way round. I've had: "Look I've bought you a new telly!" I don't watch a lot of TV.

In short buy the best AV amp you can afford and get some old speakers from Ebay, is my advice.
;)
 
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