Beginner requires help with Turntable + Speakers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 01-09-2015, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Question Beginner requires help with Turntable + Speakers

Hey all,

I am not only new to these forums, I am also new audio in general. I do listen to a lot of music, but I use my Creative T20 2.0 speakers for that and I recently found them lacking in sound quality (the quality that my Sennheiser HD555 headphone does offer).

Last week my parents gave me their record collection and I have been saving some money as well for a turntable and some (hopefully) decent speakers. I have been reading on the subject and I believe the Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB is a good choice for a turntable. If this is not right in your eyes, please do tell Last week I also read somewhere that that particular turntable has a built-in pre amp, so that it could be plugged into any speakers with RCA input. If this is the case, is there any benefit in using a receiver? Because that way I could save money by not buying a receiver and using that money for better speakers.

I also have been reading about speakers, but there are simply too many for me to get a clear picture of what I should get. My budget for the speakers would be in the area of 300-400$ I am interested in sound quality mainly and 2 speakers should be enough for my small dorm room. If there is any chance, I would like it if I were able to connect my laptop with my speakers (in order to be able to play spotify and the like).

So, i'll summarize my questions for you guys:
- do you believe my best option would be to directly connect my turntable to speakers and don't buy a receiver (just yet). Is there any loss of quality if I refrain from using a dedicated receiver?
- can you advise me any (bookshelf)speakers in the range of 300-400$, preferably with a RCA input?
- if I would buy a receiver, can I just hook them up with my turntable, or do I need a phono output on the receiver? Or is this obsolete due to the pre-amp in the turntable? Are there any good receivers out there for not too much $ that focus on sound quality mainly (I don't need all the extras, tbh).

Anyway, I appreciate it if any of you guys (of girls) would be willing to give me some pointers. Also excuse my English, it is not my first language.

PS: I have a small room. 14"" x 10"" and I listen to any genre of music, from folk to R&B, from jazz to EDM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-09-2015, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Napo View Post
Last week I also read somewhere that that particular turntable has a built-in pre amp, so that it could be plugged into any speakers with RCA input. If this is the case, is there any benefit in using a receiver? Because that way I could save money by not buying a receiver and using that money for better speakers.
The benefit of using a receiver is that you get:
- remote control
- input switching for several inputs
- built-in amplifiers so that you can drive standard (non-powered) speakers

If you are only going to have the one input, can find some powered speakers that you like (audioengine, M-Audio, etc), and don't need a remote control volume then you can connect the turntable (with built-in preamp) directly into the powered speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Napo View Post
I also have been reading about speakers, but there are simply too many for me to get a clear picture of what I should get. My budget for the speakers would be in the area of 300-400$ I am interested in sound quality mainly and 2 speakers should be enough for my small dorm room. If there is any chance, I would like it if I were able to connect my laptop with my speakers (in order to be able to play spotify and the like).
Now you are talking about multiple inputs - some powered speakers have 2 inputs but very few have more - most have only one input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Napo View Post
- do you believe my best option would be to directly connect my turntable to speakers and don't buy a receiver (just yet). Is there any loss of quality if I refrain from using a dedicated receiver?
You would most likely only have one input for most powered speakers - you wouldn't be able to connect your laptop without switching wires each time you change sources. The quality is mostly in the speakers - I wouldn't worry about losing quality by not using a receiver - that is a minor consideration.

[quote=Louis Napo;30661785]- can you advise me any (bookshelf)speakers in the range of 300-400$, preferably with a RCA input?You are talking about powered speakers - the field is very limited. Most are computer speakers (most are low quality), there are some powered "studio monitors" that are pretty good (like from Audioengine, M-Audio, etc) and some HiFi speaker manufacturers make a couple of powered speakers - but these are surprisingly rare and can be expensive (Paradigm Shift, NHT Powered One, etc)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Napo View Post
- if I would buy a receiver, can I just hook them up with my turntable, or do I need a phono output on the receiver? Or is this obsolete due to the pre-amp in the turntable? Are there any good receivers out there for not too much $ that focus on sound quality mainly (I don't need all the extras, tbh).
If the turntable has a built-in preamp, you can connect it to any receiver or powered speakers - just like your laptop output (or a CD player RCA output).

Believe it or not, the cheapest receivers out there are AVRs with all the extras - the dedicated 2-channel receivers from Marantz, Yamaha, etc are nice but cost more than a high volume A/V Receiver (AVR) - look here for cheap Denon AVRs for under $200. If you get a low cost receiver (they don't have preamp outputs), then you have to use standard speakers (non-powered) like Polk, Infinity, Boston, etc.
http://www.accessories4less.com/make...ceivers/1.html

Polk Audio Monitor40 Series II Two-Way Bookshelf Loudspeaker (Black) Pair - $150

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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 #3 of 14 Old 01-09-2015, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
You are talking about powered speakers - the field is very limited. Most are computer speakers (most are low quality), there are some powered "studio monitors" that are pretty good (like from Audioengine, M-Audio, etc) and some HiFi speaker manufacturers make a couple of powered speakers - but these are surprisingly rare and can be expensive (Paradigm Shift, NHT Powered One, etc)
That is a shame! So there is not much choice when I am not going to use a receiver. Do you know how the Audioengine A5+ compares to non-powered speakers of the same price, in regard to sound quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post
Believe it or not, the cheapest receivers out there are AVRs with all the extras - the dedicated 2-channel receivers from Marantz, Yamaha, etc are nice but cost more than a high volume A/V Receiver (AVR) - look here for cheap Denon AVRs for under $200. If you get a low cost receiver (they don't have preamp outputs), then you have to use standard speakers (non-powered) like Polk, Infinity, Boston, etc.
Thanks for that link. The prices look real low to me, but I am afraid they don't ship to Europe, so that's not really an option for me. I'll keep my eyes open for cheap sellers in Europe!

Do you think it's worth investing in a 'vintage' receiver? Something like the Marantz 1050? Ofcourse I know there are certain disadvantages to buying older models, but I hear from different sources that those older models can compete with great high-end receivers of today, but cost a lot less. Do 'vintage' receivers even have RCA connections?

Thanks so much for helping me! I would not know what to do without experienced users helping me, honestly!
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post #4 of 14 Old 01-09-2015, 04:59 PM
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Good choice on the turntable.

I can't advise you on what's available in your country. Here in the States you can get a starter stereo receiver for a bit over $100. Used is fine--everything has RCA inputs. You might find good deal on a receiver or AVR, or even an integrated amp (that's just a receiver without the tuner).

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 14 Old 01-09-2015, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Louis Napo View Post
Do you know how the Audioengine A5+ compares to non-powered speakers of the same price, in regard to sound quality?
The Audioengine A5 and the M-Audio BX-5 / BX-8 are really fine speakers - and will give you a lot for your money compared to separate speakers and receiver - but they tend to be slightly "bright" (emphasis on the high frequency) which is what a lot of people (including me) like speakers to sound like - they are not "warm" sounding speakers.

Another powered brand is JBL - check out the LSR305 / LSR308 - both fine powered speakers on a budget

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)
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-09-2015, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
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That's some great advice, I will definitely check those speakers out. I believe I have seen those LSR308's before during my quest to look for good speakers.

I assume it is possible to put a receiver between the (active) speakers and the turntable later on, right? Maybe I want to add a television to the setup in a few years and then the receiver will come in handy. Will the receiver then bypass the pre-amp in the speakers or is there a way to turn the pre-amp in the speakers off?

Thanks a lot!

PS: if you had to choose between either the BX8 D2, the Audioengine A5+'s or the JBL LSR308's, which one would you pick? I will ofcourse go to the store to test them, but maybe one of you has hands on experience with one of them that goes beyond a simple listening session in the store Cheers
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post #7 of 14 Old 01-09-2015, 07:11 PM
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I assume it is possible to put a receiver between the (active) speakers and the turntable later on, right?
No. Or at least you shouldn't. You'd be duplicating amps (and preamps).

Quote:
Will the receiver then bypass the pre-amp in the speakers or is there a way to turn the pre-amp in the speakers off?
No. There is no way to bypass anything in active speakers.

If you're thinking about future expandability, you're probably better going with a receiver and passive 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 #8 of 14 Old 01-11-2015, 04:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot! I think I will start looking into passive speakers and receivers then...
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-12-2015, 02:06 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm back With another question ^^

So I've looked into receivers and some pssieve speakers. For a receiver, I was thinking about the Marantz 1504. For speakers I was thinking about Audioengine A5+. This is a strange story though, because the owner says he found the A5+'s as passive speakers in a store. But when I go online, I read about that model that they are not passive but active. Does anyone have an idea how this is possible?

Also, would the Marantz 1504 be a good pair with the Audiengine A5+? Or would I be better off buying a different set of speakers or a different receiver. I also read good reviews about the Klipsch RB-51 II's. Would that be a better option than the Audioengine's?

Thanks a lot!
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post #10 of 14 Old 01-12-2015, 10:52 AM
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If you really want to use powered speakers, you either need to go with a direct connection from the source directly to the speaker's preamp inputs or use a preamp between several sources and connect the preamp to the powered speakers.

Some Receivers / AVRs have preamp outputs and can function like a preamp - but this feature is usually reserved for high-end models which cost a lot. The other way to go is use an actual preamp - either stereo (if you want to stay with 2 channel) or a preamp / surround processor (sometimes called a Pre-Pro or a AV Surround Processor) - the problem here again is that these tend to be high-end components and are not inexpensive.

Some mid line AVRs do have preamp outputs - or at least preamp outputs for just the front L/R channels - like the Marantz 1504 that you are looking at. This AVR could also power some standard home theater speakers for the rear but it doesn't have a preamp output for the center so you would HAVE to use a different manufacturer's speaker for the center which isn't ideal. Plus, you are paying for amplifiers twice - once in the AVR and once in the powered speakers - but you would have all the bells and whistles of a modern AVR.

If you want to stick with stereo and just want a 2 channel preamp, these are very available on the used market. Look for preamps from companies like Parasound, Adcom, NAD, etc - all fine equipment that will work great with your 2 powered speakers - often on the used market for as low as $100 - $150. I have a Parasound ZPre (mini component w/ remote), an Adcom GTP-350 (w/ tuner, no remote), Adcom GFP-750 (audiophile quality preamp w/ remote), and an NAD C165BEE (w/ remote) - all fine 2ch preamps - all available used if you look on eBay.com or Audiogon.com

If you want an actual AV preamp, there are a lot of them out there but the new ones start in the $500 to $10k+ range so they are more expensive than an AVR with the amps built in (because these are a low volume niche product compared to the AVR). Look at Outlaw Audio 975 and some other models are listed and reviewed here: Home Theater Review.com. Older ones won't have HDMI inputs / outputs but are much cheaper on the used market like my Adcom GTP-740 and AMC AV81 (neither of which I've used in years) but you can get several inputs, composite video, and some will even have Dolby Digital decoding that is compatible with DVD and Blu-Ray.

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)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Napo View Post
Also, would the Marantz 1504 be a good pair with the Audiengine A5+? Or would I be better off buying a different set of speakers or a different receiver. I also read good reviews about the Klipsch RB-51 II's. Would that be a better option than the Audioengine's?
Klipsch makes a nice speaker but they are too bright for me - I don't like they way they sound and they are too fatiging to listen to for very long (at least for me since I am sensitive to really loud / harsh high frequencies). But that is why you need to go listen to them for yourself - they may be perfect for you!

I would suggest that it would be a better match with something like these:

Paradigm Mini Monitor - $598/pr (to my ear a slightly bright speaker)
NHT Classic Two - $660/pr (to my ear a slightly warm speaker)

These are also both easy to find used - I've bought most of my Paradigm speakers used - just make sure you get a no-questions-asked return policy so you can listen to them once you get them. They are great speakers that have a slightly bright sound that gives music and movies a nice balance. I bought one pair of my NHT Classic Two used on eBay and paid about $375 with shipping - they were only about a year old and in perfect condition. A warmer sounding speaker that I use in my office that I can listen to all day.

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 #12 of 14 Old 01-15-2015, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey again I went to the local hi-fi shop today and the guy showed (and let me hear) me some equipment.

I heard the Dali Zensor 3 and I really liked them to be honest. Turntable-wise I had set my mind on Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB. But today I heard and saw the Pro-ject Carbon and those rock as well. So i am in doubt about which one to get

In the hi-fi store they only had 2 receivers though:

1. Cambridge Audio SR10 V2 for $400
2. Denon DRA-F109 for $250

The Cambridge Audio is at the far end of my budget but if this is an OK receiver I think it's worth it, and the Denon I know hardly anything about.
Do you guys think I should pick one of these receivers or should I browse a little more and get a bargain somewhere else? Because I feel like the prices for these two are too high...

Thanks in advance. I am almost at the point where I'd like to make the purchase so I only have to figure out the receiver.
Forever in your debt.

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post #13 of 14 Old 01-15-2015, 10:32 AM
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If you're going to cut costs anywhere, the receiver is the place to do it. With the Cambridge in particular, you are paying a premium for the audiophile label.

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 14 Old 01-16-2015, 03:15 AM - Thread Starter
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For 50 dollars less I can get the Marantz pm 6005. Is that one of the same quality compared to the Cambridge Audio, you think?
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