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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi my name is mike.


For about nine months I’ve been looking to upgrade my stereo system, which is quite old. I started off looking for at a HT setup with a budget of about $7,000.00. After reading reviews and opinions from forums I no longer wish to upgrade to a HT setup. This is only because I would prefer to get the most enjoyment from my upgrade in music. Further my wife has a problem with my huge boston accostic (spelling) speakers I own now and adding an additional three speakers with a sub could become distressing. In the near future I would like to purchase a HT receiver for a HT room in my basement, but for now two channel music is my priority.


I would like to purchase my equipment from one of the audio stores in my area. I’ve listened to several brands of speakers which include dynaudio 1.3SE, dynaudio Audience 72, paradign reference 100, b&w 805, b&w 600 series, revel ?, jm lab cobalt 826 and alon capri and alon elites. I prefer the dynaudio 1.3SE over all of them, however, they were a bookshelf which may not be suitable to get the most out of my budget and the most out of my setup. I know dynaudio has a new contour series which I have yet to audition and would like too. Any suggestions with speakers would be appreciated.


Since I have little experience in audio equipment. My next question would be electronics. Do I need to know which speakers before I decide with electronics? I have read some reviews and think parasound, adcom, bryston, rotel and b&k all make suitable two channel amps and preamps for a two channel setup.


Does anybody have any opinions with respect to these manufactures and their sonic performance?


Does anybody have any other suggestions?


Any help would be appreciated.


Thanks,

Mike
 

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I am a Vandersteen-phile, so I would suggest the Vandersteen 2CE Sig or Vandersteen 3a Sig. Hopefully there is a dealer in your area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
tpigeon2003,


Thanks for the reply. I guess your suggesting I decide on speakers first. If that is the case maybe I am posting in the wrong forum.


Mike
 

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Here's a plan:


1. Figure out YOUR preferences & financial situation.


2. Plan your room for best sound.


3. Do lots of research on speakers. Take your time, don't get in a hurry.


4. Pick a few brands of speakers that jive with #1 & #2.


5. Listen to these speakers at home, or at a local dealer that has a similar room. Do this with amp/preamp or receiver, CD player, etc that jive with #1 & #2.


6. If at all possible, get the dealer to let you try the entire setup at home.


7. Spend money...


Needless to say, this is a highly simplified plan...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
lolittle,


My preference as well as my wife's is 2 channel and I am willing to spend around $7,000.00 for speakers, amp, preamp and possibly a CD player, although I already have a fairly new Denon 1600 DVD player.


I'm not sure what I would be missing if I were to go the HT route and that route seems to be alot of hype.


How do I plan the room. My room is 15 feet by 25 feet with 8 foot ceiling and opens into a kitchen.


Are dealers willing to lend an entire setup? That seems to be quite a task for them.


tpigeon2003,


What part of my budget should I plan to spend on speakers.


Thanks for the inputs.


Mike
 

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The best thing you can do with the budget is to let the dealers know and have them demo the best combination of speakers, pre-amplification and amplification all at once. Call ahead for an appointment if necessary. You should make it clear to them that you are not willing to exceed your budget and you need to be clear what kind of pre-amplifier you want (stereo or ht). You should end up spending anywhere from $1,600 - $4,500 on the speakers (This puts a Vandy 2CE Signature and 2 2WQ subs right in your budget :)).


BTW, I don't think you need to get a cd player if you are going to use a digital out from your Denon to your pre-amp.


You can plan the room by making sure your speakers are not against the walls and with room treatements. Room treatments should only be done after you hear any problems with your system installed, not before.
 

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Whether you can listen to a system at home depends on the dealership.


If you are into bookshelf speakers I would recommend to also have look at the Harbeth HL-P3ES and compare them to the Dynaudio especially when it comes to reproduction of voice. Transients and sharp consonant sounds are much less exaggerated and sound extremely realistic. If you get a chance you might also listen to their larger speakers.


Your selection of speakers seem to be leaning to the bright and forward sounding (metal tweeters etc.). If you are open to a more neutral presentation you might also look into Spendor's S3/5 or their larger models.


There is lot's of referrals on ecoustics.com about those two brands and the ever so slight differences in their line of speakers.


Bryston amplifiers seem a pretty good deal and are well within your budget. With the BP25 being a nice clean preamp.


Denon has announced a higher end universal player DVD-3900 towards the end of the year.


A system like this should fit well within your budget and you are not likely to feel upgrade itches for a long time.



Cheers


Thomas
 

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Mike,


My opinion here only :


With your budget, you'd be wasting a lot of money building a HT system that is also your primary system for music. The requirements of buying five or more speakers plus a sub, and a AV processor and amp, would be a severely watered down version of what you could get from a 2-channel system for the same money. Consider the option of a decent mid-fi HT setup (~$2000 for speakers and receiver), and a separate 2-channel stereo for music.


Personally, I'd post your questions at Audio Asylum.


thomaspf sure does know his speakers. (I'm a Spendor BC-1 owner myself.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Mike,


Originally I was trying to incorporate both home theater and music into one system. Now, I am only thinking of music only and a separate home theater later.


Thomas,


I never heard of Harbeth or Spendor and I don't think I have any dealers near me that carry them. I am willing to travel if I can find a dealer that I can audition several different systems. The dynaudio 1.3SE were one of the first speakers I auditioned and I keep going back to them. They sound smooth and deep and not at all bright. I didn't particularly care for any of the other speaker except for the alon elites.


Sometimes I feel the dealer is pushing a particular product by playing a particular speaker with his best electronics.


So, I come to this forum and look for opinions. If I get the chance I will check the Harbeth and Spendor speakers.


I thank you for your input and hope to narrow down my choices or find better ones.


Mike
 

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"Bryston amplifiers seem a pretty good deal and are well within your budget. With the BP25 being a nice clean preamp."


I second that!
 

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Mike,


In my experience, most high-end dealers will show a component (or speaker) in a system of comparable worth, unless requested otherwise by a customer. Usually, they'll want to get you thinking about the system as a whole, not just a component, on the chance they can sell you both. Nothing wrong with that, and you get to hear the component in a more typical setup anyway. So I think your suspicion is probably valid.


And yes, do some traveling and listen to as much variety as you can. You can add Neat Acoustics to Thomas's list of recommendations - I don't think he'll mind.


OK...add Linn too, but Thomas may not agree completely. They're not my favorites actually, but they can sound remarkably clean and articulate.
 

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Hello Mike.


Congratulations in your new adventure! For me, the process of demoing audio equipment is really fun, particularly when I actually have the cash to buy something (which happens only about once a decade).


I do have some advice for you, but first, a couple of questions:


1) Where do you live?

2) Are you only considering new equipment?


My advice:


1) Putting a system together is all about synergy. There is no "absolute best $3,500 speaker". While "Speaker A" may sound best in my system (my amps, my sources, my room), it may be only 20th best in your system.

2) Personal preference plays a role in this also. You and I might listen to the exact 5 systems, yet rank them differently. Our ears hear differently, and you might prefer a different "sound" than me. BUT SINCE IT'S YOUR MONEY, YOUR EARS ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT MATTER!!! Don't allow other people tell what "you should be hearing". Buy what sounds best to you (and your wife, of course).

3) Accept the fact that as soon as you decide on one component, you have affected all decisions to follow. For example, let's say you want to choose speakers first. Well, if you select (as your winner) a speaker that is a "difficult load", you have almost certainly chopped 70% of your possible amps from consideration - they won't have the juice to power those speakers effectively.


Since I don't know your listening habits, I will refrain from any specific models. What kinds of music do you and your wife enjoy? At what volumes? If you were forced to choose, do you prefer detail to warmth, or the other way around? How important is "reliability/durability" vs "immediate WOW appeal"?


Also, there is no absolute "right method" for allocationg funds to the various components. For example, if I had $7,000 to spend, there might be an $1,800 pair of speakers that I absolutely love, and I know I want to build my system around. This decision would of course leave extra cash for better quality amps. However, I'll go with this:


$3,000 Speakers

$2,100 Power amp/monoblocks

$1,600 Preamp

$300 Cables


If you go with a high-quality integrated (instead of separates):


$3,700 Speakers

$3,000 Integrated amp

$300 Cabling


That'll do for now. Good luck to you, and keep us up to date with your progress. Your experiences can help dozens of other folks to follow.


Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Kevin,


Thanks for the input.


I live in New York and have been looking at used equipment on-line over at audiogon. I'm not completely convinced to consider used equipment and probably would only consider something where the warranty is transferable. Used equipment opens up another door.


I would like this system to last for at least ten years (my wife would probably want it to last my lifetime) so reliablity and durability are important. We listen to a variety of music at moderate volume levels. I guess there's a medium of warmth to detail I would need to find.


Mike,


No Neat, Harbeth or Spendor dealers near me, Linn yes about a 1.5 hour drive for me. Will check them out eventually.


Mike
 

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I would definately decide on the speakers first as there is much more variation in terms of the sound for this component. I would also make sure that when you narrow it down to a few speakers that you only deal with dealers that will allow you to bring them home and demo them in your environment, as that can have a big effect on how things sound (vs hearing them in the showroom). I demo'ed quite a few speakers a few years back and ended up going with the Audio Physic Virgos (see link to stereophile review below). I have a combo music/HT, setup but music was very high on my priority of the system. The Virgos disappear as the reviewer says and they throw a huge soundstage.


John

http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?147


Quote:
Originally posted by thomaspf
Whether you can listen to a system at home depends on the dealership.


If you are into bookshelf speakers I would recommend to also have look at the Harbeth HL-P3ES and compare them to the Dynaudio especially when it comes to reproduction of voice. Transients and sharp consonant sounds are much less exaggerated and sound extremely realistic. If you get a chance you might also listen to their larger speakers.


Your selection of speakers seem to be leaning to the bright and forward sounding (metal tweeters etc.). If you are open to a more neutral presentation you might also look into Spendor's S3/5 or their larger models.


There is lot's of referrals on ecoustics.com about those two brands and the ever so slight differences in their line of speakers.


Bryston amplifiers seem a pretty good deal and are well within your budget. With the BP25 being a nice clean preamp.


Denon has announced a higher end universal player DVD-3900 towards the end of the year.


A system like this should fit well within your budget and you are not likely to feel upgrade itches for a long time.



Cheers


Thomas
 

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Mike,


I understand your situation, as I was in the same boat, primarily concerned with music reproduction. I also think you should select your speakers first.


With Dynaudios, just make sure you get an amp with high-current capability (like 45-60 amps peak current), as they are 4 Ohm speakers and they like current. I'd also say 200 watts per channel is a good target.


I spent almost a year auditoning before selecting my speakers, taking my 3 CDs and RS SPL meter to many showrooms. I won't tell you how many different brands I listened to (more than 25) but I kept coming back to the Dynaudios.


I ended up with a 5.1 system with Dynaudio Contours and almost bought the 1.3 MkII I liked it that much. (see my system specs in my signature link).


The Contour 1.3SE wasn't available when I was looking, but I listened to the 1.3 MkII, but ended up buying the 2.8. I hear the Special 25 is really outstanding as well. You might consider buying Dynaudio Contours 1.3SE used for a really good value.


I find Dynaudio's silk dome tweeter, 2-way, with 1st order crossovers, provides the most realistic presentation for my music preferences. This is an attribute of many of their speakers, including the 1.3SE, Special 25, and others.


My preference in music is jazz, jazz quartets, acoustical pieces, and female vocals. I also like some older popular music like Eric Clapton, James Taylor, etc.


I've never had the desire to listen to other speakers for the last 5 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Bruce,


Originally when I was considering HT system I was worried the dynaudio's would require a decent amp to drive them which possibly would strain my buget. Since I've decided to keep music separate from home theater I'm not as concerned.


The 1.3 SE are very nice but I feel I should have a floor standing model for more bass.


Bruce did you purchase any of your equipment used? Do you have any experience with tube amps and dynaudio? I've seen some nice tube amps used. How did you decide on parasound amp? I am unable to find a dealer that carries both parasound and dynaudio. I was seriously considering the Halo A21 with dynaudio, but am unable to find a dealer that carries both to audition them together.


Mike
 

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There are many fine components out there. I was just offering something to round out your investigation.


Here is a link that contains all the Spendor Dealerships in NY

http://www.qsandd.com/dealer list1.htm


The importer for Harbeth is at

http://www.fidelisAV.com


If you call them they can probably advise where you could listen to the Harbeth. I am not affiliated with any of these just a long term owner BC1, SP1/2e, SP2/3, Monitor 40. I think both of them give 5 years waranties but service their speakers for a very long time which is a requirement for broadcasting installations. You can still get all the variants of the BC1 serviced after 30 years. My pair comes from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation where they had it for 25 years.


You probably know about the Bryston 20 year transferable warranty.


Bring your wife along to the auditions. I assume you want to keep the system running for long stretches and want your wife to be OK with that as well.


Many systems are designed to spring on you and sound very engaging for the first few demo tracks (enticing you to buy) but get rather tiring playing for an hour after which you want to turn them off and relax.


Cheers


Thomas
 

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Mike, like most of the others have said, I'd set up your 2 channel system first with maybe $5500 of your budget, choosing your speakers as the first setp. If you go with the Dyns, then you can add Audiences for the other speakers in a HT setup - they aren't as accurate as the 1.3SEs but match well enough. Use a mid level (~$300) receiver for movies with the receiver L/R preouts being a source for your stereo preamp/integrated.
 
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