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Recommendations for starter audio setup (Warning: Newbie Post!)

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone

First post here. First time out buying my own audio setup. I don't know a thing about audio equipment. I have a limited budget. So you guys are probably rolling your eyes already! I'm guessing you get a lot of people like me wandering in here and asking for recommendations.

I'm fresh out of grad school, working my first job and renting my first real no-roommates apartment and I want to get myself a decent starter audio setup. I watch a lot of movies and listen to a lot of music. My budget is 275 dollars max for an amp along with 140 dollars each for two floorstanding speakers. I don't have money right now for a subwoofer or satellites - that will come later. I have a primitive setup compared to you guys. I have no fancy Blu Ray player or anything - Blu Ray discs are still too expensive for me. My media source is going to be either my iPod or my laptop (for playing DVD movies, iTunes etc). I do have an old Roku box as well through which I stream Netflix so that needs to hook up to the audio as well. I hope to be able to listen to a lot of streaming radio.

It's going to go in my standard small 12x12 NYC living room with wooden floors. I won't be more than 6 feet from the audio source and - obviously - don't need enormous power or anything. My neighbors would kill me. But I do want decent clarity, some volume and (importantly) durability. Definitely don't want to be buying a new amp in 2 years. Also definitely don't want buyer's regret. I've saved for four months to have enough money in the budget to buy this stuff! I can't be experimenting with various brands!

So here's the thing. I've spent two weeks combing through various websites and I came up with two choices - the Onkyo TX NR509 and Pioneer VSX 822K. However, I just discovered through further research that the Onkyos have major issues with HDMI burnouts and that the Pioneer tends to blow out quickly too. I'm totally overwhelmed at this point - there are so many brands with so many people both defending and attacking them and so many conflicting reviews that I just don't know what to think. So I figured I'd come to a forum like this where people have actually been using tons of equipment for sustained periods of time. There's just too much information and too many wildly dissenting opinions. So what amp/receiver would you guys recommend for someone like me?

I'm also looking for speaker recommendations. My research is currently indicating that the Pioneer SP-FS52 speakers would be a good choice.

Mods, feel free to move the thread if it's in the wrong place. I didn't see a special forum for recommendations though I am very tired and could have missed it.

Any and all help will be much appreciated.
post #2 of 15
You may want to consider purchasing a refurbished AVR at Accessories4Less (eg. Denon 1613) or possibly still be able to find one of last year's models on clearance at your local Best Buy or HH Gregg stores. You may also want to consider the Monoprice 5.1 speaker setup linked below ...

http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/DENAVR1613/DENON-AVR-1613-5.1ch-Networking-Receiver-w/AirPlay-3D-ready/1.html

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=109&cp_id=10906&cs_id=1090601&p_id=10565&seq=1&format=2
post #3 of 15
I'm kicking around the idea of getting those same Pioneers for a similar-size room. The Infinity Primus 363 seem similar, and are on a good sale at Fry's. I'm not sure if one is a clear winner over the other.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. jdsmoothie, I've had it hammered into me through 25 years of living around electronics consumers that one should never ever buy electronics that aren't new. Isn't it risky buying a refurbished unit? As I said, I need this to last me the next 5 years, at least.

Anyone else want to weigh in?
post #5 of 15
Many members have been purchasing from Accessories4Less for over 10 years with very positive results especially when the goal is to purchase on a lower budget. You'll likely find just as many defective refurbs as you will new in box units. You have a low budget which is why I suggested refurbished. If you can find new with your budget then do so for sure. smile.gif
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by abhidas View Post

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. jdsmoothie, I've had it hammered into me through 25 years of living around electronics consumers that one should never ever buy electronics that aren't new. Isn't it risky buying a refurbished unit? As I said, I need this to last me the next 5 years, at least.

Anyone else want to weigh in?

I have the opposite experience. Electronics either tend to die in the crib, or last a good while; bad components in otherwise quality items generally turn up in a few hours of use. Refurbs have either failed and been fixed , or were returned for reasons other than failure, and either way, they get a re-inspection beyond the original post manufacture once-over. Plus, most places that make their bread on refurbs offer a warranty anyway.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ermghoti View Post

I'm kicking around the idea of getting those same Pioneers for a similar-size room. The Infinity Primus 363 seem similar, and are on a good sale at Fry's. I'm not sure if one is a clear winner over the other.

I personally really like my Primus speakers and the P363's on sale for about $250 shipped from Fry's is a heck of deal. However, I have not compared them to the Pioneers, so I really can't say one is better than the other.

I can say that newegg has the previous generation Pioneers on sale.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100008225%2050001167&IsNodeId=1&name=Pioneer

The towers are $200 shipped for a pair, which is well under his budget.

Heck, he could even add the center channel and be within budget.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Very useful links there, guys. I'm definitely considering the refurbished option now, especially since there's a warranty.

But anyone want to weigh in on my central concern re: choice of AVR? Would you go for the Onkyo or the Pioneer? Or the Denon 1613 that jdsmoothie suggested?
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by bladerunner6 View Post

I personally really like my Primus speakers and the P363's on sale for about $250 shipped from Fry's is a heck of deal. However, I have not compared them to the Pioneers, so I really can't say one is better than the other.

Just bought the FS52s locally. Some of the reviews hinted that the Primus boosts the highs a bit, which I definitely don't care for, and that they are lower impedance than advertised in the low-mids. I'm sure they are quite capable, but that was enough for me to decide (and the Pioneers are $179/pr, which is ridiculous).

I hate to weigh in on the AVR issue, as I am an ignoranus, but I'm personally thinking of one of the Denons from A4L, to get the better room correction if nothing else.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Wow, jd, where did you get the Pioneers for 179?! All the quotes I'm seeing online have them at 120-135 each.
post #11 of 15
Microcenter has them on sale, I got Best Buy to price match and save myself some driving.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
So am going to bite the bullet and make the purchases tomorrow. Definitely going with the Pioneer speakers and am leaning towards the Pioneer amp. Last chance all - no one have any strong opinions for/against the Pioneer/Onkyo/Denon amps mentioned above?
post #13 of 15
Goodness, given your student debts just start going to garage sales. You would be amazed at what you can pickup for less that $50. This summer alone I've got two different pair of speakers, one set was from Jamo made in Germany, $20 for the pair and they are perfect. If they want too much, just check again at 4 pm when they have not sold. Offer $10 and let them bargain you up to $20.
post #14 of 15
For the receiver, go with a Denon refurb from A4L.. Warranty, plus you can buy an extended warranty for cheap.
Also, if there's a problem with it, you're only shipping to New Jersey.
Cheers, Mac
post #15 of 15
Craigslist has some great deals often too, by people upgrading to new systems or moving etc...
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