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post #1 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Last year I had to sell all my home audio equipment. I am trying to ease back into it and want to start with a "good" 2 channel set-up. My budget is roughly $900 for speakers and amplification. I already have an Oppo BDP-83 for a source.

Some one near by is selling a set of Swan F3B-F speakers. I am going to try and give them a listen next weekend. I also see a set of B&W 686's and 685's on ebay. Your thoughts on these speakers? Any other recommendations for "good" bookshelf or "mini tower" speakers? No floor standers at this time. I am leaning towards the used market so I can get more speaker for my $. I know I need to audition speakers, but because of where I live that is not easy. The only thing near by is a Best Buy. No thanks.

For amplification, I get lost with all the options out there. It needs to be small or thin since I don't have much space. Obviously, the more power the better. I am looking more for quality than power this time around though.

I am interested in learning more about tubes. I am looking at used or refurb'd Peachtree Decco's as they are pretty and look very flexible. I have seen Bada mentioned a few times also.

I also found some interesting units from Marantz. Their NR1501, NR1402, and NR1601 look like possibilities even though they are ht receivers. The PM5004 looks like it would work too. What about the PM-17? I see one on Audiogon. Then there is Rotel.

The Rotel RX-1050 looks similar to some of the Marantz stuff. What about the RA-970BX? There are a few on Audiogon also. Like I said, there is so much out there. The list is getting overwhelming.

NAD C320 has been mentioned in the past. I had a NAD receiver last and liked its sound. It went through a Sherbourn A5200 into some Triangle Antal's with an infinite baffle sub set-up.

Your guidance is gratefully appreciated!

Thanks

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post #2 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 10:44 AM
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I have an original Decco which is excellent and flexible. I also use Era 4 speakers and the combination is terrific value for the money. You can get a combo of the refurbed Decco and those speakers from Peachtree directly at your price point.

If your Oppo streams from your computer, then you're all set.
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post #3 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I have an original Decco which is excellent and flexible. I also use Era 4 speakers and the combination is terrific value for the money. You can get a combo of the refurbed Decco and those speakers from Peachtree directly at your price point.

If your Oppo streams from your computer, then you're all set.

Thanks for the suggestion. I will look into those.

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post #4 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 04:14 PM
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I think you're on the right track. Also, take a look at integrated amps from Cambridge, Music Hall and Rega. Rega is my favorite, you should be able to find a Rega Mira or possibly a Brio in your range.

Speaker choices are too numerous. Models from Focal, Usher, Vienna Acoustics, Dali, Epos, Quad and Revel (to name a few) are in range.

A tube integrated may be worth consideration. There are many available from China that look interesting. Jolida may be a brand to consider. Customer support for Jolida is US based (MD).

Good luck! You won't make a bad decision with the path you're on.

BTW, the suggestion from Sugith is also good one.
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post #5 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by stevensctt View Post

I think you're on the right track. Also, take a look at integrated amps from Cambridge, Music Hall and Rega. Rega is my favorite, you should be able to find a Rega Mira or possibly a Brio in your range.

Speaker choices are too numerous. Models from Focal, Usher, Vienna Acoustics, Dali, Epos, Quad and Revel (to name a few) are in range.

A tube integrated may be worth consideration. There are many available from China that look interesting. Jolida may be a brand to consider. Customer support for Jolida is US based (MD).

Good luck! You won't make a bad decision with the path you're on.

BTW, the suggestion from Sugith is also good one.

I forgot about Jolida. They are comparable to Bada.

The Mira and Brio have good reviews. One review said the Brio 3 sounded almost like a tube amp. They were both available on Agon within budget.

The Era speakers actually sound that good? I guess you should not judge by size and looks. They seem pricey though.

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post #6 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 05:58 PM
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I forgot about Jolida. They are comparable to Bada.

The Mira and Brio have good reviews. One review said the Brio 3 sounded almost like a tube amp. They were both available on Agon within budget.

The Era speakers actually sound that good? I guess you should not judge by size and looks. They seem pricey though.

I think Era D4s were selling at $450 or so new from Underwoof HiFi. The D4 are solid performers. I had a pair for a few weeks included with about a dozen or so different pairs of speakers in this range ($350-$800, mostly used) for in home comparisons/auditions (not all at same time but at least two, usually three). Other speakers were Sierra-1, Monitor Audio R10, Spendor S20 and SP3.5se, Paradigm Studio 20, Focal 807V, B&W 685 and DM602s3, Quad 11L2, Dali Ikon2, Neat Motive and Critique, Linn Katan, Epos ? and maybe one or two others. The D4 was middle of the pack for my listening preference. All were driven by a Rega Mira. I ended up keeping the Neat Critiques from the list above.

The Mira is a gem IMO and a solid value, speaker selection was strongly based on pairing with the Mira.
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post #7 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by stevensctt View Post

I think Era D4s were selling at $450 or so new from Underwoof HiFi. The D4 are solid performers. I had a pair for a few weeks included with about a dozen or so different pairs of speakers in this range ($350-$800, mostly used) for in home comparisons/auditions (not all at same time but at least two, usually three). Other speakers were Sierra-1, Monitor Audio R10, Spendor S20 and SP3.5se, Paradigm Studio 20, Focal 807V, B&W 685 and DM602s3, Quad 11L2, Dali Ikon2, Neat Motive and Critique, Linn Katan, Epos ? and maybe one or two others. The D4 was middle of the pack for my listening preference. All were driven by a Rega Mira. I ended up keeping the Neat Critiques from the list above.

The Mira is a gem IMO and a solid value, speaker selection was strongly based on pairing with the Mira.

Wow! A major undertaking in that comparison. How were the 685's?

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post #8 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 06:37 PM
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Wow! A major undertaking in that comparison. How were the 685's?

685s are comparable to the D4, the edge to the D4 due to better low end extension and overall better balance. Appearance and build quality was better with the D4. However, I preferred the B&W DM602s3 over the D4.

Not that much of an undertaking and in fact very fun and rewarding. This was done with the 3rd 2CH system at home and the least expensive of the three. I think it is more difficult to piece together a $1000 system than a systems 3 to 4 times more.
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685s are comparable to the D4, the edge to the D4 due to better low end extension and overall better balance. Appearance and build quality was better with the D4. However, I preferred the B&W DM602s3 over the D4.

Not that much of an undertaking and in fact very fun and rewarding. This was done with the 3rd 2CH system at home and the least expensive of the three. I think it is more difficult to piece together a $1000 system than a systems 3 to 4 times more.

How do you think these will compare to the Swan's. The Swan's have a 9" woofer, a mid, and a ribbon tweeter. Looks like the D4 is running about $479 right now. So they are both in about the same price range.

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post #10 of 46 Old 08-07-2011, 10:21 PM
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How do you think these will compare to the Swan's. The Swan's have a 9" woofer, a mid, and a ribbon tweeter. Looks like the D4 is running about $479 right now. So they are both in about the same price range.

Not familiar with the Swan's other than the M200MKII active monitors although a 9" mid/bass and ribbon tweeter seem worth listening to.
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post #11 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Just an out of the blue question. Is this a good set-up/price?

McIntosh Stereo System - $450

Item Description Serial No. Condition
McIntosh Tuner & Pre-Amp MX 113 57043 Good
McIntosh Power Amplifier 2205 Good
XR Speakers XR 7 2048/2049 Good
McIntosh Environmental Equip MQ10174162 1V001 Good
Bang & Olsen - turntable 4002 125G 056 Good
Nakkamichi tape Deck Model 1000E Good

Thanks

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post #12 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 06:15 PM
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Just an out of the blue question. Is this a good set-up/price?

McIntosh Stereo System - $450

Item Description Serial No. Condition
McIntosh Tuner & Pre-Amp MX 113 57043 Good
McIntosh Power Amplifier 2205 Good
XR Speakers XR 7 2048/2049 Good
McIntosh Environmental Equip MQ10174162 1V001 Good
Bang & Olsen - turntable 4002 125G 056 Good
Nakkamichi tape Deck Model 1000E Good

Thanks
Is this a joke? $450 for all? If you don't buy this right now, send me the details and I'll buy it!
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post #13 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Is this a joke? $450 for all? If you don't buy this right now, send me the details and I'll buy it!
No it is not. Found it on Craigslist. I already sent them a message asking for pictures to verify the actual equipment. Just waiting for a response.

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post #14 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 06:37 PM
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No it is not. Found it on Craigslist. I already sent them a message asking for pictures to verify the actual equipment. Just waiting for a response.
Good luck. If this is at all legitimate (unlikely) it is gone. For your sake, I hope otherwise.
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post #15 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Good luck. If this is at all legitimate (unlikely) it is gone. For your sake, I hope otherwise.
It is not stopping me from my initial reason for this post. I just saw it and thought I would mention it hear. Like you said, probably gone or not real.

Any way back to the original questions....

I am leaning more towards the Peachtree option so I can play music from a laptop. Any other options similar to the Peachtree's?

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post #16 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 07:35 PM
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It is not stopping me from my initial reason for this post. I just saw it and thought I would mention it hear. Like you said, probably gone or not real.

Any way back to the original questions....

I am leaning more towards the Peachtree option so I can play music from a laptop. Any other options similar to the Peachtree's?
The Decco is a solid choice but you can achieve the same with other integrated amps with the addition of a DAC.
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post #17 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 08:06 PM - Thread Starter
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The Decco is a solid choice but you can achieve the same with other integrated amps with the addition of a DAC.
So something like the Brio-R and the DAC would work? What would be a comparable or better set-up for the same $?

As an aside, stevensctt I truly appreciate all your input!

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post #18 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 09:01 PM
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So something like the Brio-R and the DAC would work? What would be a comparable or better set-up for the same $?

As an aside, stevensctt I truly appreciate all your input!

No problem -- Yes a Brio/DAC will work. I use a DAC with my Rega Mira and stream over WiFi with an Airport Express from my iMac.

Just a personal opinion, but I think Rega offers great value for the dollar but I'm sure other choices are comparable. The decision is up to you.

I find DACs interesting devices to tinker with. I'm relatively new to computer audio. Once started, it seems I'm always chasing something to remove the digital from audio.
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post #19 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 09:05 PM - Thread Starter
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So what is a better option (integrated + external DAC) for the same money as the refurb Decco? Everything I have started looking into is more.

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post #20 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 09:57 PM
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So what is a better option (integrated + external DAC) for the same money as the refurb Decco? Everything I have started looking into is more.

No real answer. The Decco is an all-in-one choice and probably the safe choice. But given the flexibility available with integrated/DAC you could eventually acquire something more tuned to your liking.
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post #21 of 46 Old 08-08-2011, 11:03 PM - Thread Starter
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What are your thoughts on the Music Hall A 50.2? Maybe add a dac. This has almost twice the power as the Decco. I could maybe add a better dac later.



Once again, too many choices.

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post #22 of 46 Old 08-09-2011, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I am finding some nice Music Hall amps for good prices. The A15.2 at 2x75 for $499. The A35.2 at 2x85 for $799.

But... I see some Creek stuff that is getting great reviews for similar prices. The 5350Se for $799, the Evolution 2 for $675, and a used Destiny.

stevensctt, your thoughts?

So much for my budget.

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post #23 of 46 Old 08-09-2011, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Other speakers were Sierra-1, Monitor Audio R10, Spendor S20 and SP3.5se, Paradigm Studio 20, Focal 807V, B&W 685 and DM602s3, Quad 11L2, Dali Ikon2, Neat Motive and Critique, Linn Katan, Epos ? and maybe one or two others. The D4 was middle of the pack for my listening preference.

stevensctt, do you mind ranking these speakers. I am researching them and value your opnion. I am guessing the Neat Critique is at the top, the D4 in the middle and the 685 near the bottom.

Thanks

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post #24 of 46 Old 08-09-2011, 05:36 PM
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I am finding some nice Music Hall amps for good prices. The A15.2 at 2x75 for $499. The A35.2 at 2x85 for $799.

But... I see some Creek stuff that is getting great reviews for similar prices. The 5350Se for $799, the Evolution 2 for $675, and a used Destiny.

stevensctt, your thoughts?

So much for my budget.

The Music Halls are good choices and do seem to be good values. Recommended one to a friend some time ago and he is very pleased. The 50.2 over the Decco may work out better depending on the speakers you choose and listening habits.

Creek is generally considered a step up from Music Hall. The Destiny will take care of your budget!
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post #25 of 46 Old 08-09-2011, 05:50 PM
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stevensctt, do you mind ranking these speakers. I am researching them and value your opnion. I am guessing the Neat Critique is at the top, the D4 in the middle and the 685 near the bottom.

Thanks

Instead of ranking these 1 to 14, I'll break out in 3 categories: good, better and best. Category placement is specific to my particular room and the particular gear, listening preferences, etc. Also, switching speakers to a different room, with different gear and better room treatments (I did this with most) may move speakers to different category. The Neat Critique is my overall 1st choice. Most of the speakers are discontinued. If there is one over riding criteria for my selections, it would be the eveness and smoothness of the mid-range. The speakers below were all purchased used (most in excellent condition) and ranged from $350 to $800 for the pair. Other speakers currently owned and used besides the Neats are Spendor SP7/1 and Dali Mentor2.

Better

Neat Critique
Spendor S20
Spendor 3.5se
B&W DM602s3
Dali Ikon2
Neat Motive

Better

Quad 11L2
Sierra1
Linn Katan
Epos ES-14
Era D4

Good

Monitor Audio GS10
Paradigm Studio 20v2
Focal 807V
B&W 685
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post #26 of 46 Old 08-09-2011, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
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stevensctt, thanks for the great info. The B&W 602's did that good!?! These can still be had for a good price. I will research the others more for sure.

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post #27 of 46 Old 08-09-2011, 06:58 PM
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stevensctt, thanks for the great info. The B&W 602's did that good!?! These can still be had for a good price. I will research the others more for sure.

For me they did. I think the s3 version borrowed some from one of B&W's higher series (tweeter?) and they were the last of the DM series to be made in England.

Reviews are mixed on the 602s3 and they were the largest in dimension compared to the others. This review mentions the unclored and natural midrange of the 602s3, I agree that this is the strong point.

I'm considering buying these again.
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post #28 of 46 Old 08-11-2011, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Went and listened to a set of Swan F3B-F's. They are a very nice looking speaker. The pictures are very deceiving. They are large. They are 28" tall and weigh about 60lbs. I would say easily a "mini tower" type speaker. The set-up that they were demoed on was not good. CD player was falling apart and the old receiver had no display and about only 25 watts a channel.

They still sounded pretty good though. They have potential. They were on a bare floor near corners and about 18" from the back wall. This helped give them plenty of bass. A little "boomy" but could be corrected with better positioning. I just don't know how you could easily get them off the floor though. Something that tall and heavy.

They only thing I have to compare them against were the last pair of speakers I had. They were Triangle Antal floorstanders. I liked the Triangles better. Then again I had them in a "good" set-up with good equipment with some sound treatments. I think these could get there. I just don't have the equipment or space any more. I am not going to rule them out, but look at other options.

This makes me ponder the Dali Ikon 2's. They look similar to the F3B's. So the speaker quest continues.

Analog: Pioneer SX-950, CT-F9191, AD797MCPS, PL-707, RH-65, RG-1, SR-202, Monitor 10/HE-500 hp's
Digital: Laptop, M2tech Young, Oppo 83, Simaudio i5.3, Dali Mentor
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post #29 of 46 Old 08-12-2011, 10:22 AM
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Good deal here on a pair of Dali Ikon 2. Don't know the seller but somewhat local to me. An offer of $450 shipped should allow you to resell and recoup if you don't like them.

No familiarity with Swan F3B-F and little info with a google search. They should be placed on substantial stands (8-14 inches?) as pictured.
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post #30 of 46 Old 08-12-2011, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Great find stevensctt! I have been searching for these. I found some new sets, but this is better. Sent them a message. Where do they rate overall with you? I know you had them on your "best" list. It seems we are agreeing on sound. Would you biamp them?

I have also sent some message about some used D4's. They are coming back with about the same exact cost as the Dali's. If the person accepts your suggested offer.

As for an integrated to run them, how would the Music Hall A35.2 match up? It is 85 watts/ch in 8 ohm load. Do you think that would be enough or should I look at something that can biamp them to get more power into them? The Creek 5350SE is also 85 watts/ch but looks like it can run two channels to one speaker. Also, they are available at a good price.

Last but not least, what DAC would you choice? Looking for something that has USB at the highest rate. I notice some with USB don't transfer at the highest rate possible.

I also see that Music Hall has a usb-1 tt that works with usb connections. It is also only $249. That could be a fun way to get introduced to vinyl. As you can easily tell, my budget is going to be stretched!

Analog: Pioneer SX-950, CT-F9191, AD797MCPS, PL-707, RH-65, RG-1, SR-202, Monitor 10/HE-500 hp's
Digital: Laptop, M2tech Young, Oppo 83, Simaudio i5.3, Dali Mentor
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