Newbie looking to put together a budget speaker system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Newbie looking to put together a budget speaker system

Hi guys, I am a newbie to avsforum and audio in general, though I am a lot more familiar with video and televisions.

I bought my first speaker system, a pair of Boston Acoustics CR8s (used on craigslist) and a Yamaha receiver at the recommendation of some online friends. A friend of mine was thinking about getting a pair of computer speakers or an ipod dock recently and I recommended that he consider a set of loudspeakers (is that the proper term to distinguish between heftier speakers?) and an amp just because of my positive experience. I far prefer the sound and I have found it to have greater longevity than any of the cheap speaker systems I'd owned previously, and with the used gear it costed roughly the same as some of the solutions out there.

I looked at some of the forums on amps / receivers and the thread on how to identify quality audio. Here's my conundrum. Unlike many of you avsforum regulars, I have little exposure to instrumentation live in person, and to high end audio gear. My only frame of reference for how many things "should" sound are my CR8s.

I am looking to put together a system for around $200 USD with some wiggle room to $250. I have seen the JBL Studio 180s on sale for $80 each and I read a glowing review of them online. I also see the Paradigm Atom V3s on sale used for $100 on ebay with a very positive review. Are there any other speakers in this price range, new or used, that you guys would recommend? Is the Lepai 2020A+ adequate to drive the Studio 180s until he can part with some more cash for something like an AVR with a more powerful amp and some more input options?

Also, he has access to some old speakers owned by a relative that he's wanting to sift through. Are there any rules of thumb I can use to identify potentially "good" equipment? Someone once told me that the weight of a speaker or amp can indicate the quality of the audio. What are other things that I can look for as a layperson? I've told my friend that I don't know much about these things, but as the only person he knows with any remote interest in it, he has asked me to look with him.

tl;dr
What are some good speakers / amp combinations that can be had for around $200 USD, used or new?
What are some general things that a layperson can look for to determine the quality of a speaker they see in store?
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post #2 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totesmuhgoats View Post
Hi guys, I am a newbie to avsforum and audio in general, though I am a lot more familiar with video and televisions.

I bought my first speaker system, a pair of Boston Acoustics CR8s (used on craigslist) and a Yamaha receiver at the recommendation of some online friends. A friend of mine was thinking about getting a pair of computer speakers or an ipod dock recently and I recommended that he consider a set of loudspeakers (is that the proper term to distinguish between heftier speakers?) and an amp just because of my positive experience. I far prefer the sound and I have found it to have greater longevity than any of the cheap speaker systems I'd owned previously, and with the used gear it costed roughly the same as some of the solutions out there.

I looked at some of the forums on amps / receivers and the thread on how to identify quality audio. Here's my conundrum. Unlike many of you avsforum regulars, I have little exposure to instrumentation live in person, and to high end audio gear. My only frame of reference for how many things "should" sound are my CR8s.

I am looking to put together a system for around $200 USD with some wiggle room to $250. I have seen the JBL Studio 180s on sale for $80 each and I read a glowing review of them online. I also see the Paradigm Atom V3s on sale used for $100 on ebay with a very positive review. Are there any other speakers in this price range, new or used, that you guys would recommend? Is the Lepai 2020A+ adequate to drive the Studio 180s until he can part with some more cash for something like an AVR with a more powerful amp and some more input options?

Also, he has access to some old speakers owned by a relative that he's wanting to sift through. Are there any rules of thumb I can use to identify potentially "good" equipment? Someone once told me that the weight of a speaker or amp can indicate the quality of the audio. What are other things that I can look for as a layperson? I've told my friend that I don't know much about these things, but as the only person he knows with any remote interest in it, he has asked me to look with him.

tl;dr
What are some good speakers / amp combinations that can be had for around $200 USD, used or new?
What are some general things that a layperson can look for to determine the quality of a speaker they see in store?
I would suggest the Sony STR-DH130 receiver, which you can find for around $120.

The Lepai amplifier is not adequate for most speakers/rooms.

For speakers, I suggest that you go to Parts Express and get a set of the Dayton B652 speakers, for only $35.

They are amazingly good speakers for a ridiculously low price.

I have a pair in my den, connected to my 60"Sony HDTV with a 40-watt Cambridge amplifier, and the sound is good.

They replaced a set of Boston speakers which cost quite a bit more, and they are a big improvement.
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Last edited by commsysman; 07-26-2014 at 08:09 AM.
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post #3 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 09:39 AM
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I would suggest a real receiver (AVR) - and since these are continually being upgraded with new features you should easily be able to find a good used one. Also, you could get a close out or refurb model for pennies on the dollar. Most on AVS recommend Denon AVRs - check this one out:

Onkyo TX-SR313 5.1-Channel 3-D Ready Home Theater Receiver - $110

Important as the AVR is, you will be better off to spend more of your budget on speakers - but they are expensive. Paradigm makes great speakers (I love mine) - the Atom is their smallest speaker and has limited bass as it has a 5" woofer and would usually be used with a sub. The Paradigm Mini Monitor has a bigger woofer and would give better bass without a sub.

Look at Infinity Primus (on Amazon), Pioneer Andrew Jones (on Amazon) and Polk (on Newegg.com)

Polk Audio Monitor Series New Monitor 35B Compact Bookshelf Loudspeaker (Black) Pair - $90
Polk Audio Monitor Series New Monitor 45B Two-Way Bookshelf Loudspeaker (Black) Pair - $200

Used speakers can be a great value, just make sure there is a good return policy and that you listen to them with all types of music to make sure there are no problems. Sometimes loud music will allow you to hear speaker issues, but often very quiet sounds will as well. I bought some used speakers and they sounded really good, but on very quiet passages there was a scratchy sound in one of them. I switched the left and right speakers and replayed the passage and the noise followed the same speaker. The seller agreed to pay for the driver, I ordered a new one from the speaker manufacturer and installed it - and fixed!
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2-Ch (HT L/R): Oppo BDP-105 BD, Adcom GFP-750 pre, Bryston 10B Sub Xover, Bryston 4BSST2 / Paradigm Signature S4 v.2 (L/R), (2) SVS SB12-NSD (Subs)
Home Theater: Bryston 4BSST2 amp / Paradigm CC-590 (C), Outlaw 7700 amp / (4) Def Tech UIW-RSSII (LS/RS/LB/RB), Samsung 46” 3D LCD

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post #4 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies guys. I was already considering the Andew Jones ones, the BSP-21s are on sale right now for $50, but I have read the 22s are a big improvement over them. I haven't really read anything that makes me think the Polk 35Bs are gonna blow me away, can't find much information on the 45B. The review of the JBL towers was so glowing that it kind of has me leaning that way.

I have my concerns about the Daytons. I have read that there are 3 revisions and that the original ones which are no longer in production are the ones that everyone was so impressed by, and that the newer revisions are not so great. Any merit to this?

Also, I didn't even consider a refurbed receiver. What a great idea! I was looking at older model receivers in that price range on ebay, no HDMI on any of them. Seeing that price makes me consider upgrading my Yamaha RX-V457 for the newer inputs.
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post #5 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totesmuhgoats View Post
Also, I didn't even consider a refurbed receiver. What a great idea! I was looking at older model receivers in that price range on ebay, no HDMI on any of them. Seeing that price makes me consider upgrading my Yamaha RX-V457 for the newer inputs.
A real good price on a new Tascam PA-R100 receiver here
http://www.ebay.com/itm/TASCAM-PAR10...item1e8f2a4369

http://tascam.com/product/pa-r100/

Your Boston CR8 are some nice speakers - some budget speakers will not
hold up well against them.

However, for the price the JBL Studio 180 will be OK - and you may like them.

__________________________________________
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 PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totesmuhgoats View Post
I have my concerns about the Daytons. I have read that there are 3 revisions and that the original ones which are no longer in production are the ones that everyone was so impressed by, and that the newer revisions are not so great. Any merit to this?
You are correct. The other poster is stuck in the past. The original Daytons are the ones people loved; the middle revision everyone hated. The newest ones are supposed to be OK but not as good as the originals.

Besides, those speakers are what you get if you only have $40 to spend.

What Yamaha receiver do you have? Might be best to put all your money toward speakers
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post #7 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 03:40 PM
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What Yamaha receiver do you have? Might be best to put all your money toward speakers
Bottom of post #4 the Yamaha 475

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Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #8 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, I confused people a bit.

My friend who is the one making the purchase has no existing equipment.

I have the Yamaha receiver, a pair of Boston Acoustic CR8s and an Andrew Jones SW-MK8 sub.

The speaker recommendations are for my friend. I was just remarking that an upgrade to an HDMI receiver was more affordable than I had thought for myself. I won't be upgrading any time soon though anyway since I only use it for stereo which I can pass over toslink just fine.
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post #9 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post
A real good price on a new Tascam PA-R100 receiver here
http://www.ebay.com/itm/TASCAM-PAR10...item1e8f2a4369

http://tascam.com/product/pa-r100/

Your Boston CR8 are some nice speakers - some budget speakers will not
hold up well against them.

However, for the price the JBL Studio 180 will be OK - and you may like them.
Based on the specs of that receiver the deal seems too good to be true
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post #10 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 05:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totesmuhgoats View Post
Based on the specs of that receiver the deal seems too good to be true
I own the PA-R200 > the receivers are nice/good and are brand new, plus the Ebay seller is a good one.
I only paid $188.21 for that one, plus the square-trade warranty.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/TASCAM-PAR20...item1e8f431d6b

http://tascam.com/product/pa-r200/

For one on a tight budget who needs a new, or second receiver - it is a good deal, and I like mine.

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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 PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #11 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
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My friend is likely going to buy the Studio 180s at $80 a piece. He probably won't have the cash to buy the receiver for some time. Do the Tascam receivers usually sell for around this much?
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post #12 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totesmuhgoats View Post
My friend is likely going to buy the Studio 180s at $80 a piece. He probably won't have the cash to buy the receiver for some time. Do the Tascam receivers usually sell for around this much?
It is rare to find a price like this on EBAY for a brand new one. It is a mystery why that one
Ebay seller, is selling them that cheap. They are well built, and the on screen menu/gui is
good and easy to handle.

The word is getting around - no guarantee how long they will last at this price. Tascam/Teac
decided to discontinue them, they were aiming to sell them on the pro audio side.

Another new owner of the PA-R200 here
Bedroom Receiver

__________________________________________
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 PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #13 of 15 Old 07-26-2014, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I think my friend will likely buy the Studio 180s. I think he'll be buying a receiver later. Thanks to everyone who responded.
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post #14 of 15 Old 07-27-2014, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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So just to follow up, my friend ended up purchasing the studio 180s. He is very excited about it. He'll buy a receiver when he has a little more cash on hand. Thanks again to everyone who responded.
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post #15 of 15 Old 07-27-2014, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by totesmuhgoats View Post
So just to follow up, my friend ended up purchasing the studio 180s. He is very excited about it. He'll buy a receiver when he has a little more cash on hand. Thanks again to everyone who responded.
Enjoy the adventure

__________________________________________
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 PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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