Help me build my system: $6,000 budget - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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All,

I am new to posting but "2 Channel Audio" has been my homepage for quite some time. I wanted to ask for your input on my system. I have budgeted about $6,000. This is my first "real" 2 channel system. Here are the specs/requirements:

- Room is 25 feet long by 12 feet wide by 20 feet tall (2 stories tall)
- System is designed for music (will be used occasionally for TV/movies)
- Music sourced exclusively from iPod/iPad and vinyl records
- Listen to literally all kinds of music, so don't need to design the system to suit one particular genre

What I'm thinking so far:
- 2 tower speakers (B&W 683, B&W CM9, Dynaudio Excite X36)
- Preamp: Peachtree NovaPre
- Amp: Marantz or similar brand, will be selected based on speaker selection

My questions for the board are as follows:
- Are tower speakers definitely the way to go given the massive room size?
- If you had $6,000 and the aforementioned requirements, what would you do differently?
- How important is Preamp selection? Given that I only will have 2 source (vinyl and iPod), I don't need anything too fancy. Although I do want DAC functionality, and Peachtree seems like the frontronner.
- I've read a ton of tower speaker reviews on this site and think it ultimately comes down to what I think sounds best, so I am more interested in if you guys think this style of setup is ideal for this price range, room size, etc.

Thanks in advance, I really appreciate any help.
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post #2 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Also, given my budget, I'm interested to see how you guys would allocate funds? I'm loosely budgeting

$3k speakers
$1k amp
$1k preamp
Change goes to a turntable, wiring, etc.

Might consider AppleTV (optical connection to a Rotel preamp) instead of the Peachtree option for the preamp
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post #3 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 04:31 PM
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Should be able to assemble a fantastic system for $6k. ..My thoughts:

How you allocate your $$ will depend on whether or not your believe that amplifiers, cd players, cables, etc.. have their own sonic signature. ..If you subscribe to this notion, then you have little choice but to go out and listen to every amp, pre-amp, etc.. within budget. ..As for me, I do NOT think the audible differences b/w electronics amount to much. ..For me, when it comes to sound, it mostly about the speakers. ..In choosing electronics, it mostly about features, brand longevity, reliability, etc.. ..Anyway, my recommendations:

Amp: Go with an integrated. ..Putting the pre and amp section into one chassis helps to eliminate ground hum issues, reduces clutter, saves energy (I'm guessing on this, but it seems logical) etc.. ..And why pay for two chassis when one will do?? ...I know this cuts against the audiophile grain, but there is really NO technical reason for splitting these into two pieces OTHER than giving audiophiles more boxes to obsess over. ..Also, I strongly recommend choosing an integrated that has a balance control, and tone controls and (ideally) a mono switch as they help to make imperfect recordings sound better. ..My specific recommendation would be the NAD C375Bee. ..I had this integrated for a year and it was fantastic (though no mono switch). It was incredibly quiet, had great volume control tracking, no signal bleed b/w inputs, and tons of power. PLUS, for $199 ea. you can add a phono preamp and/or a DAC module that plugs right into the unit thereby allowing you to connect a computer, etc.. ..All in, this amp will cost about $1700.

I would NOT spend heavily on a DAC. ..A Cambridge audio DAC Magic or an Arcam rDac, both around $450, are probably considerable overkill. ..Claims people make about hearing huge differences b/w DACs are never well substantiated. ..In my view, DACs sound pretty much alike.

Speakers: Sorry, but you'll have to go out and listen to whatever you can find near you at local retailers. ..Brands to consider: Vandersteen, PSB, Paradigm, Totem, etc.. I would recommend brands that have been around for 10 years rather than boutiquey "I make 'em in my garage and sell them on the internet" type brands as it's a coin toss as to whether or not those companies will be around in 3 years should you require service or need to replace a driver, etc.. ..If you have the room, I would recommend floor standers rather than stand mount two ways. ..To my thinking, there is really no space saved with stand mounted speaks, they have basically the same footprint. ..And by forgoing a sub, you gain reduce complexity.

Turntable: Where will it be situated?? ..If you have fairly stable (bounce-free) floors, then your options are wide open. ...There are countless Direct drive options like Technics or belt-drive options like Pro-Jects/ Music Hall/ Rega's to chose from. ..But if your floors are bouncy, then you might need to consider a suspended design like a Thorens/ AR/ etc... ..I'll defer to the more knowledgeable on this.
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post #4 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 04:40 PM
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just to broadin your search here are a few suggestions from ID companies which imo are a better value /performance than your average run of the mill speaker companies. these speakers use great drivers and hand made cabinets. they are also high efficient so they can go LOUD with very little power.a good thing also if you ever get into tubes these will sound awsome even with 3 watts. these are just some examples

pair of tekton designs pendragons $2500
OR
pair of decware audio model err extended range radials $2000
or
pair of zu audio omen def $3000
or
pair of reference 3a mm decapo i $2500

emotiva xpa 2 power amp $800

emotiva usp-1 pre amp $450

i'm so laid back,i'm laid out
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post #5 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response.

Regarding integrated vs. separate components, I was under the impression based on multiple precedent threads in this forum that for a 2-channel system, if you have around $2,000 to allocate to the electronics you should definitely have separate amplifier and pre-amplifier/receiver... I do value the upgrade optionality and have read that there is less interference with two separate systems. Of course, I defer to the board because I'm relatively new to this stuff...

Sounds like tower speakers are the way to go.

Not sure on where the turntable will be situated. I know very little about turntables other than 1) I want one and 2) I currently own one vinyl (James McMurtry, Live in Aught-Three) and need some way to play it

Quote:
Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

Should be able to assemble a fantastic system for $6k. ..My thoughts:

How you allocate your $$ will depend on whether or not your believe that amplifiers, cd players, cables, etc.. have their own sonic signature. ..If you subscribe to this notion, then you have little choice but to go out and listen to every amp, pre-amp, etc.. within budget. ..As for me, I do NOT think the audible differences b/w electronics amount to much. ..For me, when it comes to sound, it mostly about the speakers. ..In choosing electronics, it mostly about features, brand longevity, reliability, etc.. ..Anyway, my recommendations:

Amp: Go with an integrated. ..Putting the pre and amp section into one chassis helps to eliminate ground hum issues, reduces clutter, saves energy (I'm guessing on this, but it seems logical) etc.. ..And why pay for two chassis when one will do?? ...I know this cuts against the audiophile grain, but there is really NO technical reason for splitting these into two pieces OTHER than giving audiophiles more boxes to obsess over. ..Also, I strongly recommend choosing an integrated that has a balance control, and tone controls and (ideally) a mono switch as they help to make imperfect recordings sound better. ..My specific recommendation would be the NAD C375Bee. ..I had this integrated for a year and it was fantastic (though no mono switch). It was incredibly quiet, had great volume control tracking, no signal bleed b/w inputs, and tons of power. PLUS, for $199 ea. you can add a phono preamp and/or a DAC module that plugs right into the unit thereby allowing you to connect a computer, etc.. ..All in, this amp will cost about $1700.

I would NOT spend heavily on a DAC. ..A Cambridge audio DAC Magic or an Arcam rDac, both around $450, are probably considerable overkill. ..Claims people make about hearing huge differences b/w DACs are never well substantiated. ..In my view, DACs sound pretty much alike.

Speakers: Sorry, but you'll have to go out and listen to whatever you can find near you at local retailers. ..Brands to consider: Vandersteen, PSB, Paradigm, Totem, etc.. I would recommend brands that have been around for 10 years rather than boutiquey "I make 'em in my garage and sell them on the internet" type brands as it's a coin toss as to whether or not those companies will be around in 3 years should you require service or need to replace a driver, etc.. ..If you have the room, I would recommend floor standers rather than stand mount two ways. ..To my thinking, there is really no space saved with stand mounted speaks, they have basically the same footprint. ..And by forgoing a sub, you gain reduce complexity.

Turntable: Where will it be situated?? ..If you have fairly stable (bounce-free) floors, then your options are wide open. ...There are countless Direct drive options like Technics or belt-drive options like Pro-Jects/ Music Hall/ Rega's to chose from. ..But if your floors are bouncy, then you might need to consider a suspended design like a Thorens/ AR/ etc... ..I'll defer to the more knowledgeable on this.

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post #6 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 04:55 PM
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If it were me I would spend $5k on speakers (if you can find a demo pair of Dynaudio Contour S3.4) , $100 on an Apple TV, $400 on a Rega RP1 turntable and the remaining $500 on a used amp to go with your Rotel preamp.
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post #7 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 04:59 PM
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You might want to consider either Salk or Philharmonic speakers rather than the B&W. Both are highly regarded here. Just a thought.

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post #8 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 05:54 PM
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If it were me, I would go with Magenpan 1.7's, a decent used tube preamp and a powerful 2 channel amp. Possibly a used modwright, Audio Research or Conrad Johnson pre. I'm a big fan of Parasound amps and the Halo A21 is a great one and would power Mags very well.

Magnepan 1.7's - $2k
Decent used tube pre - $1-2k. You could also pick up a Parasound 2100 for ~$500 if you don't like tubes and it has some great crossover functionality not usually found in a preamp.
Used Parasound Halo A21 - $1.5k
Decent DAC - $500
Rythmik F12 - $900

Then buy some room treatments. You can get the materials pretty cheap and make your own with some fabric and 1/8" thick wood.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

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post #9 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 06:29 PM
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since most recommend what they have...

i'd buy a pair of salk ht2-tl's...

i would not spend a bunch of money on electronics...

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post #10 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 07:33 PM
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^^ what I wish I could have ^^

Although the Salk Soundscape 8 looks pretty incredible.

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post #11 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 08:32 PM
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I would look at the Philharmonic 3
http://philharmonicaudio.com/gallery.html
http://philharmonicaudio.com/philharmonic3.html

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Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PA-R200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #12 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 10:07 PM
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My room size is similar and here's what I've pieced together and it sounds incredible: B&W 683's (although RS my next upgrade), Cambridge Audio Azur 840W amplifier, Cambridge Audio 840C Cd player, used Audio Research LS-2 preamp, used Simaudio Moon LP 5.3 preamp, and Rega P3-24 turntable. There's a website called audioadvisor.com where the amp and CD player are heavily discounted. The amp is about half off, same with the cd player. The CD player has a digital inputs and an INCREDIBLE amp so I run streaming music through it. Overall, the system is really, really nice sounding. It even stops my wife in her tracks.
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post #13 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 10:08 PM
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Sorry. Typos with stupid iPhone. I met the cd player has an incredible DAC.
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post #14 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

I would look at the Philharmonic 3
http://philharmonicaudio.com/gallery.html
http://philharmonicaudio.com/philharmonic3.html

Way to beat me to it Zieglj01!! LMAO!

I too recommend the Philharmonic 3

HAVE:

Receiver: Marantz SR6004
Speakers: Philharmonic 2; TagMclaren Calliope; Pioneer BS-22
Sub: W15GTI MKII (Tuned to 20hz; 300 liter enclosure) X 2
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post #15 of 164 Old 03-04-2012, 10:46 PM
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Differences between properly engineered electronics are inaudible. Differences between speakers, speaker placement, listener position and room treatments are dramatic. So I'd put $$$ into the dramatic:

$150 - HLLY-AMK-II pre
$200 - Behringer A500 power amp (or $400 for 2)
$200 - Technics beltdrive TT and pre from kabusa

$800 - room treatments (Primacoustic or RealTraps or DIY)
$1200-$1700 - sub(s)
$2000 - main speakers (check out Linkwitz Pluto 2.1's - DIY for closer to $1000 than $2000 - http://www.linkwitzlab.com/Pluto/Pluto-2.1.htm)


Although, it seems on the used market, one can buy some fantastic speakers for less than $2000 these days, particularly when they only need to go down to 60-70 Hz or so for when using a sub. And used the rest for the biggest audible impact: buying some more music that you really love.
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post #16 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lulimet View Post

If it were me I would spend $5k on speakers (if you can find a demo pair of Dynaudio Contour S3.4) , $100 on an Apple TV, $400 on a Rega RP1 turntable and the remaining $500 on a used amp to go with your Rotel preamp.

Where do you find the Dynaudio Contour for $5k?
http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/tower_speakers

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrlittlejeans View Post

If it were me, I would go with Magenpan 1.7's, a decent used tube preamp and a powerful 2 channel amp. Possibly a used modwright, Audio Research or Conrad Johnson pre. I'm a big fan of Parasound amps and the Halo A21 is a great one and would power Mags very well.

Magnepan 1.7's - $2k
Decent used tube pre - $1-2k. You could also pick up a Parasound 2100 for ~$500 if you don't like tubes and it has some great crossover functionality not usually found in a preamp.
Used Parasound Halo A21 - $1.5k
Decent DAC - $500
Rythmik F12 - $900

Then buy some room treatments. You can get the materials pretty cheap and make your own with some fabric and 1/8" thick wood.

I am definitely not opposed to buying used electronics, but how can I certify they are in good condition before purchasing? Based one what everyone is saying, it sounds like it makes sense to allocate funds heavily toward speakers...

What are you guys favorite place to buy used high end stereo equipment? I've looked on this site, eBay, craigslist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by timosmith View Post

My room size is similar and here's what I've pieced together and it sounds incredible: B&W 683's (although RS my next upgrade), Cambridge Audio Azur 840W amplifier, Cambridge Audio 840C Cd player, used Audio Research LS-2 preamp, used Simaudio Moon LP 5.3 preamp, and Rega P3-24 turntable. There's a website called audioadvisor.com where the amp and CD player are heavily discounted. The amp is about half off, same with the cd player. The CD player has a digital inputs and an INCREDIBLE amp so I run streaming music through it. Overall, the system is really, really nice sounding. It even stops my wife in her tracks.

Sounds like an incredible setup. Why do you use two preamps?
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post #17 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Also what do you guys think about the Focal 836V? Looks like a great setup in my price range. Is number of drivers necessarily a better thing for big rooms? (I notice Dynaudio towers mostly have 2 drivers and 1 tweeter, but get consistently great reviews)

http://www.focal.com/en/home-audio-l...orus-836-v.php

http://www.soundhifi.com/images/836r.pdf
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post #18 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chburrus View Post

What are you guys favorite place to buy used high end stereo equipment? I've looked on this site, eBay, craigslist.

I can second Audio Advisor that timosmith mentioned for new equipment, and they have open box and factory refreshed items. I have been to their main office here in Grand Rapids to pick up components. Nice people. Professional operation, and they specialize in high end electronics. See how their deals compare with your local dealers.

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post #19 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chburrus View Post

Also what do you guys think about the Focal 836V? Looks like a great setup in my price range. Is number of drivers necessarily a better thing for big rooms? (I notice Dynaudio towers mostly have 2 drivers and 1 tweeter, but get consistently great reviews)

http://www.focal.com/en/home-audio-l...orus-836-v.php

http://www.soundhifi.com/images/836r.pdf

If you are looking at the 836V, jump up to the 836W, they aren't on the site yet but they have the better W cone drivers.

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post #20 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chburrus View Post

What are you guys favorite place to buy used high end stereo equipment? I've looked on this site, eBay, craigslist.

audiogon
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post #21 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chburrus View Post


Where do you find the Dynaudio Contour for $5k?
http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/tower_speakers

I am definitely not opposed to buying used electronics, but how can I certify they are in good condition before purchasing? Based one what everyone is saying, it sounds like it makes sense to allocate funds heavily toward speakers...

What are you guys favorite place to buy used high end stereo equipment? I've looked on this site, eBay, craigslist.

Sounds like an incredible setup. Why do you use two preamps?

Because the Audio Research is a Line Stage only and doesn't have a phono section so I just run the Sim Audio through the Aux input.
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post #22 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 07:39 AM
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Concur. AudiogoN.
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post #23 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkish54 View Post

Way to beat me to it Zieglj01!! LMAO!

I too recommend the Philharmonic 3

I don't think the OP heard us

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post #24 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 08:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chburrus View Post

Where do you find the Dynaudio Contour for $5k?
http://www.dedicatedaudio.com/tower_speakers

I said if you can find a demo pair at a dealer you should be able to get them for $5k.
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post #25 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I don't think the OP heard us

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post #26 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Ah got it, thanks
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post #27 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 08:42 AM
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Emotiva XPA-2
Emotiva USP-1 which has bass mgmt so you can add a sub
The Maggies and the (ed.) Philharmonics seem like good choices as are Salks but there are many others.
There, as a former fangirl I've given my plug for Emotiva. I have found their amps to be bargains.
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post #28 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

I don't think the OP heard us

These definitely look like a great option, but I can't find a dealer in Houston and as such will have a tough time testing them out...

Is there any specific reason everyone loves these speakers so much?
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post #29 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chburrus View Post

These definitely look like a great option, but I can't find a dealer in Houston and as such will have a tough time testing them out...

Is there any specific reason everyone loves these speakers so much?

Speaking for myself, I've never heard so many good things said about speakers and speaker manufacturers as I have the Salks or Philharmonics. The Phils in particular have been compared to speakers 5x their cost. Dennis Murphy seems committed to making quality speakers at an affordable price, focusing on accuracy. Cutting out R&D, marketing, etc. the value per dollar spent is much greater than larger brands.

I've never purchased anything in this $ range without an audition, but for the Philharmonics I am making an exception.

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post #30 of 164 Old 03-05-2012, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chburrus View Post

These definitely look like a great option, but I can't find a dealer in Houston and as such will have a tough time testing them out...

Is there any specific reason everyone loves these speakers so much?

I would keep them on a short list due to the history, and respect
for Dennis Murphy.
And this is interesting.
http://philharmonicaudio.com/reviews.html

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Who and Where - is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PA-R200, Pioneer VSX-30
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