£500-£600ish budget...

Arctic Jack

Standard Member
I sadly know nothing of music systems.

I’ve had the wall between my kitchen and dining room removed, so now have a reasonable sized open space. I’d like to have something that will play some nice background music. I’m not really into any specific genre.

Someone recommended me a Cambridge Audio One. I’ve also seen good things written about the Denon M41. As far as speakers are concerned I’ve stumbled into the Q Acoustic 3020i.

I think I’ll be mostly using my iPod to play the music so I’m guessing they’ll connect up somehow (that’s how little I know). A CD player may get a little usage at some point. Would I be wiser just getting a decent amp and speakers instead of the all in one mini hifi? Then later, maybe think about adding a CD player in further down the line?

I’ve no idea, any advice would be great...
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
It's always fun spending other folks' money but for...

nice background music.
...I don't think you need to spend your whole budget. Something like this well-reviewed Denon would be fine but if you wish to sit and concentrate on the music or you wish to throw a party, then such mini systems won't be up to it:


Also, unless you feed high-quality digital music files into any amplifier/speaker combination, you won't get high-quality sound out.
 

Arctic Jack

Standard Member
It won’t be required to host a party. My wife listens to music while she cooks, we play music when we have another couple over and we’re playing games/cards. I’d like it to sound like I did well with the budget.

I listen to all walks, classic, trance, jazz, INXS, most things 80’s, dance music, country etc...
 

AmericanAudio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
My curveball offering, Nice, simple, clean looking active speakers with bluetooth in etc. No need for a lumpy box inbetween them any more.

Klipsch 'the fives'

Or

SVS Prime Wireless, with the added benefit that you can stream to them.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
Just to reiterate what I mentioned in post# 2 about file quality...

Do you know what type of digital music files you have on your iPod? Honestly, if you only have files of AAC or MP3 at 256kbps or less then even the best hifi system isn't going to sound great. The weakest link in the chain (media and hardware) limits overall sound quality.
 

Arctic Jack

Standard Member
Just to reiterate what I mentioned in post# 2 about file quality...

Do you know what type of digital music files you have on your iPod? Honestly, if you only have files of AAC or MP3 at 256kbps or less then even the best hifi system isn't going to sound great. The weakest link in the chain (media and hardware) limits overall sound quality.
Yes, currently my music is MP3 files at 320kbps... Where would I find higher quality audio to use with my iPod? Sorry, technology left me behind in the 90’s.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Like for like, FLAC is higher quality than mp3. No idea if they work on an eye product.
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Hi

Couple of points:
1 - My first system was a Marantz MCR510 and some QA2020i. Similar to what you're looking at above. It sounded fine in a small flat. They're not massively endowed in the power department though. A bigger room might mean a slightly thinner sound.
2 - A high quality streaming service (accessed through your phone, assuming you have a smart phone) will beat the pants off your MP3 collection for sound quality. I haven't been near my itunes collection since I started a Qobuz subscription (other services include Tidal, Amazon HD etc).
3 - I like the idea of a seperate amp, source and speakers. There are plenty of benefits in active apeakers, but I like being able to slowly upgrade my gear. Were I starting again, with your sort of budget, I would get a Marantz PM6006 (Or go online for 2nd hand bargains. Amp's have very few moving parts so buying online isn't particularly daunting), QA3030i (big sound for the money) and a Yamaha WXAD10 to add wireless capability.

Just my 2p.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Putting a pair of speakers in means a reasonable footprint, even for actives, and especially so if there is an amp/streaming/cd unit too. You also can't leverage the benefit of a proper stereo image across the whole area as it's likely you are cooking one end and eating the other.
I don't think it's an ideal setup at all for a kitchen personally, unless you have vastly more budget and start looking at amps with Room Correction etc.

I would stick an integrated unit in; something smart, stylish and sleek - and hopefully offering a good sound of course.

For the budget I think the new Ruark R3 would be my current pick.
There's also others like:
Bluesound Pulse 2i, Sonos Five, and for a decent amount less a Yamaha MusicCast 50 or maybe an AudioPro C10.
Edit: Just seen the Denon Home 350 looks like another good candidate - review on the home page.

I use the older Yamaha WX-030 in my kitchen, for cooking purposes also! It's not the last word in Hifi, far from, but as an inexpensive device in the kitchen it's ideal really. It takes up little room, looks very unobtrusive on the side, and sounds consistent as you move about the room given it's mono.
So with your budget I would go with similar but far better quality, and the examples above would get you looking in the right direction at least.

If wanting speakers though, perhaps save up a little more and look at the active KEF LSX. They have the ability to set up the sound (via DSP) to optimise them for the room they're in - which acoustically speaking a kitchen is typically far from ideal so that sort of functionality may be very welcome.
 
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Arctic Jack

Standard Member
Well this didn't go according to plan... All the advice has just diluted my decision.

I was initially looking at:

Denon M41 - Q Acoustic 3020i
Cambridge Audio One - Q Acoustic 3020i

Now I've added these to the mix...

Marantz PM6006 - Q Acoustic 3030i
Ruark R3
AudioPro C10
Denon Home 350

I'm now wondering if a mini hifi system is suitable for a 3.5m x 7m kitchen/diner room. Maybe just one of those last three systems sat on the kitchen bench. I think I really need to have a listen to them at this point.
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
To
Well this didn't go according to plan... All the advice has just diluted my decision.

I was initially looking at:

Denon M41 - Q Acoustic 3020i
Cambridge Audio One - Q Acoustic 3020i

Now I've added these to the mix...

Marantz PM6006 - Q Acoustic 3030i
Ruark R3
AudioPro C10
Denon Home 350

I'm now wondering if a mini hifi system is suitable for a 3.5m x 7m kitchen/diner room. Maybe just one of those last three systems sat on the kitchen bench. I think I really need to have a listen to them at this point.
To be fair, it's just a question of what you're after in the long run. If you're after proper hifi, that you can upgrade as time goes on, then seperates is the way to go. Especially, if you're thinking CD's in the future.
If you just want decent sound in your kitchen, and it'll still be the same kit in 10 years, then intergrated units are the way to go. I have 2x Sonos 3 (as stated above, there are other good options out there) in my kitchen as a stereo pair. It's a good size room (the dining table sits 6) and they have no worries filling it. A mate has a Sonos 5 in his, even bigger, kitchen. Does a fine job.
 

daddy999

Active Member
If you are looking for a one box solution, I’d look at the Naim mu-so Qb, Peter Tyson have 1st generation manufacturer refurb units for £350.00. I’ve had one for a couple years, it still amazes me how sounds for it’s size.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
Well this didn't go according to plan...
I see the decision making process as a 2 dimensional diamond shape. The decision making process starts at the very bottom, with information gathering, and finishes at the very top with a decision on the best music playing setup for your particular requirements.

Start with information gathering - just like you're doing now - then, as information continues to arrive, the process progresses further up the diamond to the midpoint (i.e. the widest point). This is when you have the maximum amount of info you're going to gather and it can seem rather overwhelming at this point. Next, one begins to give consideration to all that info with the aim in mind (i.e. your kitchen music setup and the way you wish to use it). This gradually reduces the quantity of info as you discard less suitable options until you reach the peak with a decision.

Even if the final decision is one you (or someone else) first suggested, you are able to feel confident in the decision because you have considered all possibilities.

I am available for problem solving and decision making seminars, motivational team building events, after-dinner speaking, etc. Talk to my agent. ;)

I'm now wondering if a mini hifi system is suitable for a 3.5m x 7m kitchen/diner room.
The answer to that specific question has everything to do with the way you listen to music.

For background music played at low-to-medium volume, a mini system will be fine though I agree with acgingersnaps in that small speakers in a large space usually give a lighter tonal balance than is strictly accurate. For background music, I doubt that would be an issue, but I could be wrong as different folk have different sensitivities to mild tonal imbalances.

If this music playing setup was intended for serious listening in the same room size (i.e. 25 sqm), I would usually suggest speakers the size of:

or a small-to-medium sized floorstander.

A slightly smaller speaker may also suit depending on acoustics (not often good in a kitchen-diner) and your tolerance to a marginally lighter tonal balance:

And I would also suggest a minimum amplifier power of around 50W/channel with most speakers - but this would be speaker specific. However, I doubt many folk would be able to achieve a good sound in a kitchen diner for serious listening due to (generally) poor room acoustic properties.

Not all small systems and speakers are low powered. Some can manage very high volumes. It comes down to amplifier power and the speaker's max. volume capabilities.
 

Arctic Jack

Standard Member
I listened to a few options in Richer Sounds today and came away liking the Cambridge Audio One with the Q Acoustic 3020i speakers. That was in a small room setting though, and likely won’t translate as well into a larger kitchen/diner.

I found out that white unit is no longer available. Which was the main reason it got the green light from the wife. The chap in the store was wondering whether it was being discontinued because he couldn’t locate one anywhere in the Richer Sounds system and couldn’t order stock in either.

He pondered whether Cambridge had something in the pipeline to replace the Audio One, but said he hadn’t heard or read anywhere that this was the case.

The search continues...

No, this won’t be serious listening Dogfonos. As much as I’d like some of those speakers listed, they just blow the budget by the looks of it. I’ll take a closer look at the cheaper Mission QX-2’s.
 

mseve1

Active Member
I found out that white unit is no longer available. Which was the main reason it got the green light from the wife
Don't overlook the Denon CEOL N10 which is very similar to the Cambridge Audio One. White ones are still available (if you hurry) for £369.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I listened to a few options in Richer Sounds today and came away liking the Cambridge Audio One with the Q Acoustic 3020i speakers. That was in a small room setting though, and likely won’t translate as well into a larger kitchen/diner.

I found out that white unit is no longer available. Which was the main reason it got the green light from the wife. The chap in the store was wondering whether it was being discontinued because he couldn’t locate one anywhere in the Richer Sounds system and couldn’t order stock in either.

He pondered whether Cambridge had something in the pipeline to replace the Audio One, but said he hadn’t heard or read anywhere that this was the case.

The search continues...

No, this won’t be serious listening Dogfonos. As much as I’d like some of those speakers listed, they just blow the budget by the looks of it. I’ll take a closer look at the cheaper Mission QX-2’s.
Here’s one from the RS outlet.

 

Cribbster

Active Member
Cheaper than the option posted above are these bad boys: Edifier BT speakers

I am using them from my laptop via BlueTooth and they sound perfectly decent for background music and listening while I work. We also have an Audio Pro for my wife to play from her iPad / iPhone which she loves. A single one is obviosuly only mono and although I really do like the depth of sound it can sound a little bassy when first listening. The Edifiers have a clearer sound if no quite the depth of bass. Could be a good option to consider. We also have a Bose Soundwave which works perfectly for us in the kitchen. Single box, good depth of sound and easy to manage. My personal preference would steer me away from Q Acoustics as they don't impress me much. Not overly wowed by the Denon (we have one of those as well) or much of the Denon audio stuff I have heard. But that's my preference. :)
 

Arctic Jack

Standard Member
OK after doing more research and had a second listening demo I have moved away from the Q Acoustics.

I'm thinking Audio One & Dali Spektor 2's at this point. I've also read the B&W 607's are pretty good but that'll be slightly over budget by adding around £130 to the price of the Spektors. I haven't heard them in person so wouldn't know if they'd be worth it for what I need or whether they'd work well with an Audio One.

Oh one last thing... I listened to some MP3's at 320kbps on the Audio One, they sounded OK to my ear (but I've no idea what I'm listening for) then I listened to a CD and even I could here a slight jump in music quality. Is there anyway to get that sort of quality digitally through an Ipod and then onto an Audio One?
 
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Cribbster

Active Member
Probably not an iPod. Some portable msuic players support the higher definition formats. Or else you go for a subscription to a streaming service such as Qobuz or Deezer where they offer CD quality and above. You just need a player / streamer that can connect to those services. Or you go down the route of ripping cds to something like FLAC, store them on a hard drive or NAS in your home and then stream them from there.
 

Arctic Jack

Standard Member
I listened to an Audio One with Audio Monitor Bronze 100 speakers today. I had no idea about their quality but that bigger sound impressed me. Then I got to reading how What HiFi reviewed them pretty poorly. Despite me liking them, that review put me off.

Wanting to stay with a larger speaker, I’ve now got my eyes on the Q Acoustic 3030i’s (sorry Cribbster), also maybe, but lesser so the B&W 607’s.

The thing with the 3030i’s is that most ‘official’ places reviewing them say they’re great. But, the everyday guy I speak to, isn’t really that impressed with the 3000 range.

In my head, tomorrow I’ll likely buy the 3030i’s or the Spektor 2’s...

Any advice on cable for the pair of them? I’ve no idea what to look for.
 
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Onlythesound

Active Member
If you can have a listen to the Q Acoustics concept 20s, they are worth it. I believe ‘QA central’ places them above the 3030i in their pecking order. They are a fantastic speaker when placed on their dedicated stands, both of which can be found discounted at the mo.
 

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daddy999

Active Member
My only advice is don’t read or listen to anyone’s reviews. Recommendations is one thing, but, your own ears should be the only review you trust.

I use Van den hul the Clearwater speaker cable, but any cable from £2.50 -£10.00 a meter is good stuff these days. I get mine from www.futureshop.co.uk
 

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