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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, my name is Bryan and I'm new to Home Audio. I'm 19 and looking for something cheap to start out with; something that I can build upon easily. I'm big into car audio, and I realize that car audio is very much different than home audio, so if I fall into something stupid, please correctly me.


This is going to be for now strictly Home Audio, no Video component (as of yet).


I want to start off with just a good 2-speaker system, and work from there. Firstly however, I want opinions on how I should approach the receiver/amplifier end.


Assume a small budget (say $700 for the electronics). I want to get a separate preamp and amp, that way I have more flexibility when I upgrade later. Is this a smart idea? What would be some recommendations on product brands/model numbers? I know Marantz, Denon, Onkyo, and Outlaw Audio, along with H/K are supposed to be pretty good. I also want to get something that can grow with me for a while. I definetely want the ability to play normal music CDs and content from a 5.1 sound card on a computer in 5.1 when I get around to building up to a 5.1 setup (I don't have any plans to go beyond 5.1).


So what are some of my options? BTW, I'm hopefully looking for around a 150x2 amp to start, in a relatively small room. I want the ability to get pretty loud.


Thanks for the help in advance.
 

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no way in the world u can get pre/pro + amp for $700..

What u can get is a decent receiver for that price and get yourself Energy Take 5.1 speaker system.. Cheap and quality.. And whatever u do, dont get BOSE - they are inferior to other quality stuff on the market..

try www.ecoustics.com - it is like a search engine for electronics reviews..

then head over to www.hometheaterhifi.com - they review Onkyo great 800 reciever.. If it's over your budget - get a lower model, like 600 or 700..

New Pioneers and Sony are cheap and good also..

once u have the budget - move onto Pre/pro + Amps.. Quality amps alone will run u $2000+ for 5 or 7 channels..
 

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If u REALLY want to go into AMPS - check out www.outlawaudio.com for their good and cheap AMPs..

I was in your shoes 2 years ago, I know how it feels.. I spent countless hours reading here, advise u to read up also..

other forums to try:

***************.com and hometheaterforums.com..

good luck..
 

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950 pre/pro + 2 200 watt monoblocks..

around $1300....

+ speakers price.. Might as well get 5.1 (5 speakers, .1 is the subwoofer) since u gonna have the pre/pro or receiver do the decoding for u...
 

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Fryguy,


You will be better off buying from the used market. I know it's not the place for a newbie to start, but there are plenty of places to seek advice to get you there. Unfortunately, AVS isn't the best forum site for 2-channel stereo advice (IMO). Try here instead: http://www.audioasylum.com


Good luck, and enjoy the music.
 

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Bryan,


on one hand you've come to the right place because the people here are among the most helpful, well-informed and friendly on any forum. On the other hand this is really pretty HT not stereo audio. The audioasylum is a great place and the guys there are deeeeply into it but maybe that's too advanced to start with. Also audioreview.com for userreviews is not bad.

Audiogon.com is a good place to buy used. So far for sites.


What kind of music do you listen to? I suppose since you are big into car audio and like to listen loud you are not a classic, opera and Jazz buff, if presumptions based on stereotypes are allowed. Also, how big is your room? In a small room you can by nature not get a very deep bass, because the room is too short for the frequency of the bass to deploy. In your case that is an advantage because acoustically you'll get a satisfying impression even with 35Hz and won't need too much amp power.


If you want to start small and upgrade you must make smart moves and think ahead while being minimalistic. This implies for example the question: Do I really need a tuner and a pre/pro plus separate amps. The most minimalist way you can design a system is a CD-player with volume control and a pair of active speakers. Most volume controls on Cd-players suck and the good ones are too expensive. Notable exception might be the Shanling CDT 100 that can be had for around $1700 new. But that's probably out of the range for the time being. Paradigm makes some nice active two-way monitors you could try with that but they also start around 2000 bucks I believe.


If I were you I'd look into an integrated amp, probably from a small British firm like Rega, Creek, Naim or Mission that you can split up and use as a pre later on. Look particularly at Mission Cyrus amps. They are gorgeous and sound fantastic and they are the most upgradable amps I know. You can buy a stereo integrated Cyrus 3i for around 500 used I'd think. Actually when this model was available new around 97 it cost only 700 or so. The new Cyrus 7 is basically the same principle but costs more than 1000 new. What is so special about this little amp? It's got way more stamina than you'd think from it's half shoe box size (good for little shelf space and comes over great with the chicks, it's real understatement and unusual). It's built very well and easy to handle, even has a remote. Now the upgrades: You can buy a PSX power supply which will make it sound more high-end like and give a little extra oomph. Then you can buy a stereo power amp of any brand you like. If you stay with Cyrus you can get a stereo power amp in the same form factor and upgrade that with another PSX. Or you can bridge the amp and go mono or bi-amping and then go PSX. You see the upgrade is very smooth. And the sound is in a totally different range compared to Japanese mass products. You will be entering the realm of high-end stereo. Be warned there is no coming back!


Speakerwise I have recently listened to Magnepan 1.6 QR. I was impressed to hell. The price on these is around 1700. My speakers are around 8000 and I found them practically as good on first impression. These are among the rare speakers where it is justified to spent a multiple of their price into electronics. This means that while the initial price might be a stretch for you, you will not be regretting it any time soon. You can keep them for years and keep upgrading the front end and amps, and they'll not stop showing you exactly what you did in each step. They have a supercool look, too, and will really wow everybody. Some caveats apply unfortunately. They are quite demanding in amp low ohm stability but the mission cyrus can do it. They give you fantastic timbre, soundstage and speed and total openness but they don't give you the last word in bass. This won't be such a problem in your room since it's small as you said. But they might be hard to set-up well in a small room. They are flat panels and need quite some room to breath around them. Imagine a panel about 1 inch thick 20 large and 50 or so high. Now, what you could do is, you could get Magnepans entry drug the MMG for 550$. They have a 30day money back guarantee, that's good. What is even better is their 1 year upgrade guarantee. If you decide to get the 1.6 instead within one year, you send back the MMG and the price will be fully deducted from the 1.6 price. This is really anticipating planning and makes upgrading easy.


If you don't like the Maggies you might want to try to look for a company that produces modular speaker systems. NHT comes to my mind. But there is a German speaker manufacture from Berlin whose systems are thought out even better . You can really pick different modules and totally configure them to your need. I post here the link to their webpage in English. The company is called Sehring. They get glowing reviews in the German press and are worth looking into.
http://www.sehring-audio.de/ind_einl_e.html


All my tips are for a 2 channel beginning serious high-end starter system. They are not homecinema related, though the cyrus might still be used with a throughput in a multichannel configuration. They also make CDplayers and radios and surround pre/pros. And Sehring offers surrounds and subwoofers so you never have to sell anything and can just upgrade until you are poor but happy.


I guess that's enough info to get you started. Have fun and please let us know how things come along and don't be afraid of these non-consumer brands, they make the better products but are just not mass market.


Till
 

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I don't know what I'd do in your shoes for $700, to be honest with you. I don't know too much about 2 channel music, but I assume you'd want full range speakers and not the smaller, satellite/bookshelf type.


As far as the electronics, I went here:
http://www.jeffssoundvalues.com/Inventory/Preamps.htm


And found a Parasound HCA-1000A 135wx2 amp for $325 used and a B&K AVP2000 preamp for 295. Those are both two well known, well respected companies, although I don't know about those 2 products in particluar. But that gets you in the range of the $700.


Also don't rule out using a receiver at a pre-amp. Just make sure that it has the proper connections to hook up a power amp - these would be labeled "pre-out". You could start with a receiver like the Pioneer 811 or a H/K 320 or something. I imagine that you can find these around $300 or so. Then you can see how you like it and always add a amp later on if you feel you need it. And then you have some nice processing power in the "newer" receivers, too, versus getting an older pre-amp just to stay within budget. I just picked up a Sony 4ES receiver (not starting to start a war here, just making a point) and for around $600, is really has ever feature you could really need and is plenty loud enough.


Don't on strictly on watts for the amp, either, especially if you are just looking for loud music. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the saying is something like "you have to double the ammount of watts just to get a 3db increase." So I think that means that if you are looking at a 100W amp and a 150w amp, you are not likely to hear a volume difference in those two.


Definitely look on the used market for amps. They don't really change too much and usually last for a long time, so you could probably find an older Rotel 100x2 amp that would blow your socks off for a few hundred. New, those little Outlaw M-200 Monoblocks look pretty cool, and pump out 200W. You can add as many as you like when the budget allows.


Aaron
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok guys, I'm really starting to get somewhere now.


Like I said, I want to start off with just 2channel now, and then eventually move into 2.1. I realize that while I'm not in 2.1 I'll be missing out on some of the low end extension, but that's ok. I heard some receivers and pre/pros aren't designed to "move" the bass over to a separate channel for a sub. What do I need to look out for in this department?
 

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Hi Bryan,

Forgive some of these guys, they can't think outside of multi-channel (stereo, what's THAT?!?). Buy used electronics. First, your budget dictates it. Second, you'll eventually want to sell them and won't lose much if any money. Don't screw around with mass-market electronics. Go to www.audiogon.com and look under amps and preamps. You'll find dozens of good models from good brands like NAD, Rotel, McCormack, Adcom and others. If you haven't heard of it, it's probably good (no offense, but if you're just getting in, you're about to hear about a bunch of brands that you just haven't seen or heard of before). The Japanese just aren't serious about it. Even H/K is a shadow of what it was. Most of the brands you mention range from bad to so-so on separates.


If you're doing a piece by piece setup, as Till mentioned, you might go listen to NHTs. They're very affordable and are very high-end performers. But, they are designed from the ground up as high-end sub/sat systems with acoustic suspension monitors as starting points. So, you can buy a very high-end speaker, then the matching sub later. Even their high-end towers are literally high-end monitors sitting on top of high-end stereo subwoofers. Looks like a tower, sounds like a tower, but modular. They also have decent bass (although, you're used to car audio) for small speakers with some going as low as 39Hz unaided. The Evolution subs would put a grin on your face and you'd probably try to figure out how to make them work in a car after hearing them. If you just don't know what you want, get some good relations going with some used audio dealers (if you have any) and see if they'll let you buy, trade up, buy, etc with little or no loss, used for used until you're ready to finalize a multi-channel system. That is usually best done with new gear as it's hard to get all the right matched bits used (unless you go to audiogon, in which case, you can find just about anything). Good luck and keep asking questions!
 

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Bryan,


you need a receiver or pre/pro with a .1 output that's the LFE channel for the sub. It's an RCA output that is line level just like your CDplayer outputs because they assume that you use it with an active sub or an extra amp for the sub. Probably 90% of receivers have that. But some don't have a very variable crossover. It is good if you can select crossover points between ideally 30Hz and 200Hz. 50Hz works well for me. Don't take one where the lowest crossover frequency is 80Hz. You will still be able to localize the bass and that's not a very nice effect. On the other hand most subs allow you to dial in a crossover freq. too, so it's not so bad if your receiver doesn't have all the different frequencies available. especially if you go with Magnepans you need a very fast bass and rather lean, otherwise it will not sound coherent.


Did you check out the mission cyrus electronics. I went to their site after writing yesterday and found their upgrade options even better than I thought. Do yourself a favor and check them out.


Till
 

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If you have separates, you don't need no stinking ".1" output. Any good sub will provide the crossover for this, though, the higher-end, the better. The sub creates it's own ".1" channel. When you're ready for 5.1, the processor will have it and, who knows what else in a few years.......
 

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FryGuy:


Check out www.**********. In the products section, they have a bunch of B-Stock items which are essentially new items. There you will find both preamps and integrated amps and regular amps for 2 channel stereo.


There are a few members who have used these (Sa-dono, Kendrick and Mad Dog) and have a very favorable impression. A pre amp should run you about $200 and a 2*150 watt amp should run you about $399. So you can have your separates for $600 bucks. You can also get a 2 channel integrated amp 2*120watt for $399


Good Luck!
 

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I second the used equipment route, and especially through audiogon. As for speakers I highly recommend the Paradigm Atoms which I have heard and can be had for about $170/pr. Also, go to cheaphometheater.com and see their affordable speaker reviews. The Axioms are very good, and the Ascends Acoustics are maybe even better, both under $300/pr I believe. With the Ascends you can also get the Hsu sub at a discount.


If you prefer something with a warranty, I recommend you start with a good receiver and I am most familiar with H/K, which has the best amps, and most of their models have preouts so you can add a separate amp later. At harmanaudio.com you can buy excellent refurbs directly from the manufacturer and get the full two year warranty. A two channel receiver with pre-outs and phono input starts at $149 (3370Z), or a AV receiver with 6 preouts for $398 (AVR320). Plus you have return privileges.


If you are a budding audiophile and do want to go used, you can't do any better than a Citation 7.0 pre/processor that originally sold for about $3,500 available often for about $500 in good condition. 7.0 two channel is fantastic sound quality, plus you can add surround modes (analog only) as you add speakers.


Good luck.


Dsmith
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok, now I'm REALLY starting to get somewhere.


First of all, I don't plan to buy right away, I want to do a lot of research first (I started researching car audio when I was 15, didn't buy my first system until I was almost 17).


Back to the 2-channel to 2-channel with a sub thing. So you guys are saying this is something I don't need to worry about? Pretty much any receiver is going to be able to let me add a separate amplified subwoofer later on?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well let me rephrase my question in a way that will hopefully get me some different (better?) responses.


What is a good pre/pro for 2-channel music that will be able to do 5.1 surround when I build up to it? Price range about 1000. I don't want to have to upgrade this unit until after I have a full 5.1 surround system, and start making home _theater_ a bigger part of my home entertainment experience.
 
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