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post #1 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

I would like to set up a stereo system of my own, but I'm totally new to this and I hope I could get some advice on setting up a system for ~$1.5k. I used to think CD music sounded like what you got on desktop speakers but having chanced upon an audio store while some people were auditioning stuff, I was like omg. I've trawled through dozens of sites but it's just been totally confusing, with some people highly recommending a certain item yet others totally trash it. I hardly even know what components make a basic system. If I'm playing mostly CDs or FLAC files, do I need a pre-amp? Tube amp? SS amp?

I have a Electro-voice Lotus ES225A Karaoke Mixer/Amp + Speakers left over from a friend, with a link nepro.com.sg/productPDF/229.pdf and I'm not sure if these could be used in a stereo system or should I be selling them to fund the stereo set and how much can they fetch?

So sorry for the wall of text guys, but I really don't know where to begin.
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post #2 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Audiopadawan View Post

If I'm playing mostly CDs or FLAC files, do I need a pre-amp? Tube amp? SS amp?

All you need is a competent solid state receiver, and a decent pair of speakers. You can definitely get those for $1,500 complete.

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post #3 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 01:16 PM
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Kef XQ20, excellent books at sale price U$ 1200,00
Harman Kardon 3490 (2 x 120W) U$ 300,00
TOTAL SATISFACTION U$ 1500,00
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post #4 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 01:22 PM
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Assuming that ElectroVoice thingy has inputs that you can connect to whatever is playing your CDs/FLACs, it should work. Who knows how well, until you listen to it, though for $1500 I'd bet you could do much better.

Beyond that, a system needs 3 things:

1) Source component(s): Could be a computer, a DVD player, even some game machines work.

2) Amplification: For budget systems, receivers (stereo or multichannel) are usually the best choice, but integrated amps (which don't have a tuner) are also good.

3) Speakers: Far and away the most important component, and you should devote most of your budget to them.

There are many ways to go here, but to keep it simple I'd consider starting with a Harman Kardon 3490 stereo receiver. It has a digital input, so you can connect your computer (where I presume your FLAC files reside) directly to it, and plenty of power for just about any speaker you might buy. Then go back to that audio store and tell them you have a budget of up to a grand, and see what you like.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #5 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 03:06 AM
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For a simple beginning audiophile setup, think about powered speakers like the Emotiva series or the Audioengine A5+. These are good sounding small speakers with amps built in. Advantages: a) amps matched to speakers, you don't have to know anything or "match" components; b) less cabling; c) good sound on a budget.

You just have to add a source, which can be your CD player or computer. If you want to add in a DAC for better sound out of your computer, there are now lots of good DACs under $500: Halide HD, Bitfrost, Musical Fidelity V-DAC2, Peachtree iDAC - just to name a few.

On that line, look at the Peachtree Audio site - they make several models of DAC/Preamp/Amp in one chassis. Their products have very good sound quality, and you just need to connect your source (either computer or CD) on one end, and speakers on the other.
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post #6 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 04:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help all!

So would I be right to say that for a basic setup, if I am using the computer as a source, what I will need is a DAC, and active speakers or amp + passives?

And if I were using a CD player as a source, I would need an amp and speakers?
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post #7 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Also, would a pair of used Martin Logan Aerius speakers be a good buy at $300? What things should I look out for in a used speaker?

Ok the owner says that the top of the panel is faulty, does anyone know if they are easily repairable?
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post #8 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 10:57 AM
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Go down to your local Best Buy with Magnolia center and listen to the B&W's that they have. Also check out their Definitive Technology speakers, Energy, and Martin Logan's. I would also look into Dali speakers, they are very warm and musical. Then pick up an HK 3490 here. I just got one of these, and it has everything you'll need. It has a built in DAC, digital input, and even a phono input for a turn table, two subwoofer outputs, and AM/FM tuner. Plus it puts out a true 120wpc at 8 ohms, and 150wpc at 4 ohms, so it will handle virtually any speaker out there from bookshelves to towers.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Harman-Kardo...ht_4431wt_1159

I have $950 invested and think my system sounds phenomenal. Here is what I have.

HK 3490
Dali Lektor 3 bookshelf speakers
JBL PSW-1000 sub
Original Playstation (read here for why) http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/leben2/system_3.html
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post #9 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 11:26 AM
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It's interesting that almost everyone recommends HK 3490. I haven't listened to that but recently I've picked Yamaha DSP-A1 (please continue reading; yes, it does have extra channels but this is not a deadly sin by itself) for $150. This 10-years old former flagship has 0.015% THD (vs. HK 3490's 0.07%), and after test I've actually replaced my Yamaha RX-797 with A1 and this was - believe it or not - an upgrade for the 2-channel listening!!!! It usually goes for about $300 on ebay. Since specs are not everything, I wonder if anyone compared those Yamahas to HK 3490 sonically side by side? I am just curious.
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post #10 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheremey View Post

It's interesting that almost everyone recommends HK 3490. I haven't listened to that but recently I've picked Yamaha DSP-A1 (please continue reading; yes, it does have extra channels but this is not a deadly sin by itself) for $150. This 10-years old former flagship has 0.015% THD (vs. HK 3490's 0.07%), and after test I've actually replaced my Yamaha RX-797 with A1 and this was - believe it or not - an upgrade for the 2-channel listening!!!! It usually goes for about $300 on ebay. Since specs are not everything, I wonder if anyone compared those Yamahas to HK 3490 sonically side by side? I am just curious.

I previously used a Yamaha HTR-6090 rated at 120wpc for my 2 channel setup. It was a 7.1 receiver. By comparison to the HK, it sounded aweful. It was thin, had no depth, it lacked midrange and especially bass.
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

I previously used a Yamaha HTR-6090 rated at 120wpc for my 2 channel setup. It was a 7.1 receiver. By comparison to the HK, it sounded aweful. It was thin, had no depth, it lacked midrange and especially bass.

I afraid 6090 belongs to a totally different league than A1 or RX-797; it's longest list of specs on the manufacturer's website doesn't even list THD suggesting that such parameter would not be even interesting for the target audience of this product : http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio..._u/?mode=model

Anyone compared A1 and the HK3490?
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 01:37 PM
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Quote:


So would I be right to say that for a basic setup, if I am using the computer as a source, what I will need is a DAC, and active speakers or amp + passives?

Yes but remember that the HK 3490 and any multichannel receiver all have DACs in them, so you wouldn't need a separate DAC.

Quote:


And if I were using a CD player as a source, I would need an amp and speakers?

You could also hook up a CD player to a set of active speakers.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #13 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 01:39 PM
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It's interesting that almost everyone recommends HK 3490. I haven't listened to that but recently I've picked Yamaha DSP-A1 (please continue reading; yes, it does have extra channels but this is not a deadly sin by itself) for $150.

Yes, an AVR will serve just as well, and many are available cheaper than the HK 3490. This being the 2 Channel forum, the HK tends to get the mentions. Lacking the bells and whistles of an AVR, it's also simpler to use. OTOH, a few of the bells and whistles are useful even in 2-channel mode.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #14 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 01:58 PM
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I agree with the Tweaked05. Go do some speaker listening (try local hifi stores other than just BB). Get a feel for what different models sound like and what you like. Also, that will allow others to help you with suggestions because then you have a more common frame of reference.

As for connecting your computer, if it has optical out, then you can connect it to any receiver that has optical inputs. If you have HDMI out from your computer graphics card, you might also have digital audio output that you can run to a surround receiver that has HDMI inputs.

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post #15 of 20 Old 03-25-2012, 01:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiopadawan View Post

Thanks for the help all!

So would I be right to say that for a basic setup, if I am using the computer as a source, what I will need is a DAC, and active speakers or amp + passives??

You need a DAC only if you want to get better sound than your computer will give you from it's analogue outs. I assume you do. Then yes, just active speakers or amp + passive.

Quote:


And if I were using a CD player as a source, I would need an amp and speakers?

Yes, or analougue out of CD deck to active speakers. Or digital out of CD deck to DAC (as above)if you want a better DAC than in the CD player. A cd player is essentially 2 devices in one: a CD transport (CD reader) plus DAC. Or to look at it another way, it's a DAC that's you can insert CDs into it and play them without needing another component before your amplification.

Note that in setups without an amp, you probably want to make sure you have some kind of volume control near your listening position. It can be software (say in the PC/laptop) or more convenient - in a remote.
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post #16 of 20 Old 03-25-2012, 10:46 PM
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I'll add the Onkyo TX-8050 2 channel receiver as a consideration. I'm not sure what sacrifices this may have when compared to the HK3490, but I'm really enjoying mine. It's directly connected to my computer for my FLAC and MP3 collection, and its DLNA and built-in streaming services and internet radio add great convenience. Throw in the Android remote and support for 4 ohm speakers and it's quite the package for the money. At $260 that leaves you plenty for a great pair of speakers and sub.

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post #17 of 20 Old 03-26-2012, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all, after looking around it seems that as I'll be using the pc/laptop as the source, going with a DAC and powered monitors might be the most affordable since it cuts out the need for a receiver and amp. I'm thinking of the emotiva range, their XDA-1 and perhaps the Airmotiv5 & 6. Anyone has any experience with those?
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post #18 of 20 Old 03-26-2012, 06:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiopadawan View Post

Hi all, after looking around it seems that as I'll be using the pc/laptop as the source, going with a DAC and powered monitors might be the most affordable since it cuts out the need for a receiver and amp. I'm thinking of the emotiva range, their XDA-1 and perhaps the Airmotiv5 & 6. Anyone has any experience with those?

Don't get hung up on powered monitors per se. That is going to limit your available choices just for starters.

You could try this:

Computer (as source) to Tascam MK122 (it will give you headphone out) to Crown XLS 1000 Drive Core to some $1100 speakers.

You didn't state in your OP if you are looking for Bookshelf or Floorstanders are an option.

The nice thing about the Crown is that it is affordable, has a good power envelope on it. Will drive 99% of the speakers out there no problem and sounds great.

The nice thing about the Tascam is that it is affordable, had headphone out, and sounds great.

Both leave you plenty of $$ for speakers. That would be the higher end component approach.

The other approach is to either get an older really high end Yamaha or Denon receiver or the HK3490 mentioned. Something with sub management if you decide to go that way. And simply feed the receiver with optical out from the laptop (plenty of low cost adapters out there).

What laptop do you have?

I would go with a receiver and burn $1100-$1200 into speakers.

Where are you located? Craigslist can be a great resource.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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post #19 of 20 Old 03-26-2012, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiopadawan View Post

Hi all, after looking around it seems that as I'll be using the pc/laptop as the source, going with a DAC and powered monitors might be the most affordable since it cuts out the need for a receiver and amp. I'm thinking of the emotiva range, their XDA-1 and perhaps the Airmotiv5 & 6. Anyone has any experience with those?

If computer is the only source, you can do better by getting professiinal audio interface like made by ESI, E-MU, M-Audio. Then add speakers from brands like KRK, Adam etc. Visit you local music store to seee this stuff.
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post #20 of 20 Old 03-26-2012, 06:29 AM
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If you buy carefully on the second hand market (eBay etc) you could either come in well under budget for same quality components, or get yourself a higher performance system for the same budget. Trouble is listening to the kit before committing to buy...
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