Question The £250 system challenge

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
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I was reading the review of the Arcam SA30 and while I was thinking what a fantastic bit of kit, I couldn't but help think "two grand!" And this got me thinking about my first system, a secondhand Technics, with turntable, tuner, tapedeck and a pair of large speakers that was the heart of my hifi for the next 10 years. It cost me £250.

Everyone has a first system, often one they've scrimped and saved for. So this is what I thought: what's the best system you can build for £250?

The only prize is the kudos of designing the system that the forum thinks is the best.

Some ground rules:
1. It has to have a source, be it turntable, CDP, or streamer. If you want to use a PC or even a phone as the source, fine, but it's cost is part of the cost of the system.
2. It has to have speakers. I love headphones, but this is a first system and needs to be able to play music others can hear.
3. It has to be something you can buy, be it new or secondhand, from a dealer or auction site. Actual prices, not starting bids.

Updated:
4. One entry per email - makes voting/reviewing easier. Yes, you can make multiple entries.
5. Please describe/price the system (and each component) - don't just include the links - prices change, links stop working...
 
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gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
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Nobsound Mini 200W (100W×2) Bluetooth 4.2 TPA3116 Digital Amplifier HiFi Stereo Class D Power Amp with Power Supply £49


AUNA AV2-CD509 £90


Wharfedale Diamond 9.0 £59

Studio Monitor Acoustic Isolation Pads £11.60

Amazon basic cable £6.30

2x2 meter qed classic 42 strand £4.30

£220,20 there is some left for shipping or bananaplugs and beer
 

gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
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Denon D-T1 Hi-Fi Mini System with CD and Bluetooth £199



Stands 60cm £40

Speaker cable could be Qed classic 42 strand £4.40

£243.40 (save over £20 if you don't need stands and buy some isolation pads for around £15)
 
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scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
695
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Well, a couple of early entries from gasolin, and both very much fit the brief, including cables and stands - I'm impressed (y)
- the first has the excellent Diamond 9.0s, for a long time one of the best speakers under £200 and an absolute steal at £59!
- and the second the DT-1, the award winning DM41B's little brother, and a cracking first system, with a tuner and Bluetooth to boot.

Setting a high standard for this challenge already!
 

chris661

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
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Interesting thread.

You can get a pair of Behringer B2031A monitors for around £100 (I checked completed listings) on the usual online auction site.
Linkwitz liked them: https://www.linkwitzlab.com/frontiers_6.htm (you'll need to scroll down a bit, or Ctrl+F).
There's also: https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/multi-way/177403-linkwitz-orions-beaten-behringer.html
They measure well, sound good, are bi-amped, and have adjustments for near wall/corner positioning, LF rolloff (helps to tame a boomy room) and HF trim.

I'd grab the same stands as above for £40, and that leaves £110.

For £55, I'd get a Behringer UMC202HD, which is a USB soundcard capable of running at 192kHz/24-Bit. The last £55 would be spent on an old laptop. Anything that has a DVD drive and a USB port to load up music.

So, you've got a decent-quality DAC, and active speakers which held their own against $9000 Linkwitz Orions.

Chris
 
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DCarmi

Active member
Nov 15, 2019
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For the bedroom, I did bag a mint condition Denon Dab41 from Az Warehouse for £148, on Black Friday. Added a Chromecast Audio for £27.99 and a TOSLink cable for £6. I am re-using some old shelf speakers which are serviceable. My budget allows for an upgrade to pair of Diamond 9.0s.

A dull entry but one I managed.
 

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
695
121
19,070
Interesting thread.

You can get a pair of Behringer B2031A monitors for around £100 (I checked completed listings) on the usual online auction site.
Linkwitz liked them: https://www.linkwitzlab.com/frontiers_6.htm (you'll need to scroll down a bit, or Ctrl+F).
There's also: https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/multi-way/177403-linkwitz-orions-beaten-behringer.html
They measure well, sound good, are bi-amped, and have adjustments for near wall/corner positioning, LF rolloff (helps to tame a boomy room) and HF trim.

I'd grab the same stands as above for £40, and that leaves £110.

For £55, I'd get a Behringer UMC202HD, which is a USB soundcard capable of running at 192kHz/24-Bit. The last £55 would be spent on an old laptop. Anything that has a DVD drive and a USB port to load up music.

So, you've got a decent-quality DAC, and active speakers which held their own against $9000 Linkwitz Orions.

Chris
Now I think Behringers are great - really do. And I'm glad to see a pair of active speakers so early in this challenge - as I was hoping some would appear. I'm going to have to take their price under advisement, as the only ones I've seen at that price have been for single speakers (or parts!), but I think that the price is achievable...

And yes, you can get a £55 pound Toshiba laptop with portable CD/DVD drive - so I think this works. If the worst came to the worst, could always skip on the Behringers' stands, and use the extra for the laptop - you can get some cheap ones pretty easily for £95.

So a good starting PC-based set up to be sure :)
 

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
695
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Both options pretty solid.

Option 1 - the Sony is a good little system, with CD, Bluetooth and Radio - a great first system, like the Denon.

Option 2 - Like the Yamaha streamer - the JBL (to my mind) are a little on the small side for a system others can hear - they're very much a desktop set - but I may be being overly fussy...

[As an aside to all posters (entrants?) - could you post one entry per email - I might add that to the original - makes it easier to vote on.
And a description of the system, with prices before any links would be nice - or add the link to the description - the prices can change, so you may have found a £150 pound bargain, that in a few days links to some £300 system.
- OK - I've updated the original post for this]
 

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
695
121
19,070
For the bedroom, I did bag a mint condition Denon Dab41 from Az Warehouse for £148, on Black Friday. Added a Chromecast Audio for £27.99 and a TOSLink cable for £6. I am re-using some old shelf speakers which are serviceable. My budget allows for an upgrade to pair of Diamond 9.0s.

A dull entry but one I managed.
Nothing dull about this - if that's the DM-41DAB - that's a great price for an award winning system - adding in a Chromecast audio takes it to a new level.
- If you add in the Diamond 9.0s, which RS do at £59 I think this makes a superb entry level system :D
 

scene

Moderator
Sep 25, 2008
695
121
19,070
Sorry: should have made this clear.
This has been posted as a Question - so you the audience can up vote solutions you like - I want to see what forumites think are the best systems....
 

Esra

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2011
59
17
18,545

very good find by gasolin for 59 btw..(y)

add


for 239 and you are done for something that looks like hifi and is new and <300.Amazing.
 

gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
596
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18,970

very good find by gasolin for 59 btw..(y)

add


for 239 and you are done for something that looks like hifi and is new and <300.Amazing.
RS2020D and the price would be £238


If you really want to make it super cheap but new (not quite as cheap as buying one of the ultra small class d amp but it's full sized if you prefer that look)

This AUNA AV2-CD508 amp costs £90, if you know any that are approved for mastercard classic the price is £70


Very good entry level amp
2020-02-21 16_50_58-Window.png



Any good dvd player if you don't mind remote control to go to the next or last track, one that has a digital out so you can upgrade to a better dac later max £50

The richer sound wharfedale diamond 9.0 for £59 and something like amazon basic cable you could have it for under £200

70+50 (max)+59= max £179 cable a 10'er bluetooth dongle i guess could you also could get for a 10'er if you don't mind long delivery time from aliexpress,whish... to add a second option for listening to music
 

Esra

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2011
59
17
18,545

Yes i have seen it too.If you are ok with just radio as a source and meh bluetooth it is ok too of course and a good price for the unit .Adding streaming to the game is worth the difference to the303 though as you won´t get same quality and convenience with bluetooth tec in the 202 and it´s nice to have all in one box.
 

knaithrover

Moderator
Nov 24, 2013
125
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10,620
2nd hand........

Amp : Nad C320BEE = £90
Speakers : Celestion Ditton 33 = £100
Source : Marantz CD48 = £40
Or
Source : Arcam Miniblink BT receiver = £60

The quality of the above set up for pretty much the cost of a couple of nights out is quite amazing. It has soul and depth and I wouldn't hesitate to have it as my no1 set up if I had to downsize.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
628
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5,270
Brand new...
Moto G7 Play £100
AKG K550 circa £100

Or
Adam T5V pair £246
Plus your phone as a source
Spend extra £50 max for a vintage TDA/PCM based CD player or £30 for Chromecast Audio
 

amormusic

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2016
80
15
4,545
Here's an actual system I bought/owned for a bit... yes I paid piss all for it and it doesn't represent a typical 250 squid system. But I did... so here goes...

Bought an Arcam Solo Mini outta the classifieds on another forum for the spankingly huge sum of.... drumroll... £20 delivered!! Also managed to buy a set of PMC DB1i's on the bay for £202 delivered!! Finished off with a Chromecast audio for thirty bucks. All which I've owned and which kicked arse for what i paid and I'm £2 over limit of this challenge!!

My mum still has the Arcam in her front room hooked up to some B&W602s I picked up cheaply.

The PMC's when I moved them on i doubled my cash on (but they are so good I then bought another set a while later, for real value money).

Was an awesome little combo of parts. Buy carefully and you can get some pretty banging kit for not much wonga.
 
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