advice needed for a newbie...


Standard Member

im trying to understand the key factors of setting up a good stereo system... i have been looking through few amps (stereo) and bunch of floorstanding speakers. well as i've mentioned i am new to this... i was thinking of buying a stereo amp and a pair of floorstanding speaker from ebay as this will be my first hi fi set. im currently using Logitech Z 5500 and its completly brilliant. but now its time for an upgrade to the main raw powerfull sound coming out of a proper requirments....... clear, deep, heavy, sharp and crisp..... any ideas?

beside this can any one help me understand what is WATT and IMPEDANCE? i mean for an amp and a pair of speaker what is the perfect watt for proper sound(proper as in something that can be compared with an audiophile system).....

thank you.....
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Distinguished Member
Hopefully one of the mods will move this to the hifi separates forum as this is the AV Receivers forum.

Please also post a budget so that the guys there can advise you further. IMHO, the budget Marantz and NAD amps would be a good start if you're buying new but if you don't mind second hand (you shouldn't as the gear is usually well looked after) there are plenty of good stereo amps around for next to no £.

If you're after budget floorstanders, the Tannoy Mercury and F4 should be on your list.


Standard Member
well my budget is around 200 i have decided to buy second hand separates i think 200 pounds should be enough for a start...what do u say?? do i need to increase my budget....??
more i am trying to understand about hi fi systems more i am going crazy... 1st of all looking at the best high end systems made me wanna sayyyy 'waaaahhhhhhoooooggaaaa...hawa hawa'!! and 2nd of all there are so many different things to add with a system in order to get good far i found intragrated amp, powered amp, pre amp, tube amp ......... still have no idea what these are..... any way i hope you guys are allways there to help out... and i really thank you for your valuable time and advices....means a lot to me..... cheers....


Novice Member
Well i'd say your budget may be a touch shy for a decent set of floorstanders, amp and cd player, which is what im assuming your after?

If you could stretch to maybe £300/£350 that may open up your choices a little more.

As suggested, I would say NAD is a great place to start, in terms of amplification and even maybe the CD player itself.

If your after a sound with guts and impact, them maybe most of the budget should go on a decent 3 way floorstanding speaker, and a decent amp, again for sheer power and VFM - Nad.

If you have never heard anything before, ask around and visit as many stores as you can, try and get a demo.MOD COMMENT...please read the forum rules re unsubtantiated criticism of companies.

Dont forget you'll need speaker cable and interconnects, so try and get them thrown in or heavily discounted at the time. Dont spend too much on these for now, if at all. The differences can be minimal, if at all, and you have the rest of your life to tweak and play with. Rule 1 spend the money on the components first, then tweak away afterwards if you enjoy it!

We all started with kit which we probably didnt know much about, so dont stress yourself too much, this is a hobby/passion that will last you a lifetime of research and enjoyment.

Good luck and let us know what's on your shortlist, there is no shortage of experienced people here to help.:smashin:


Distinguished Member
It is possible to get a basic, yet decent, stereo system in the roughly £300 to £400 range. Though, of course, the more you spend the more you get.

In general I would recommend amp of 40 watts or more. I had a 40w/ch into 8 ohms Pioneer amp for years, and it served me very well with a wider range of speakers. But, 50 watt or better is...well...better. However, the closer you get to 100watts, the more rapidly the price rises. A decent 100watt amp is going to be £500 or more. But there are very reasonable amps in the 40w to 80w range.

Amp power ratings -

First, you want power rated to 8 ohms to be able to fairly compare amps. Next you want fractional percents of distortion, usually rated as THD (total harmonic distortion) . SO, 10% THD = Bad, 1% THD = not so good, 0.1% THD = acceptable, 0.01% THD = excellent.

Now you will see other power ratings such as DIN, EIA, Dymanic, Peak, Music, all of which are valuable, but only when given along side a basic continuous (RMS/FTC) 8 ohm power rating. The RMS/FTC power rating is very demanding and while it is a sure test of an amp, it doesn't reflect real music conditions as accurately as DIN or EIA. But both together can give you a fair impression of an amp.

Next, is the Ohm rating of the power. Lower ohms automatically mean higher power, so many manufacturers will use 4 ohm or 6 ohm rating to inflate their power ratings. You need 8 ohm rating for a fair comparison between brands.

However, when given with 8 ohm ratings, the 4 ohm rating can tell you a lot about an amp. Theoretically, mathematically, 4 ohm should be twice the 8 ohm power, though in reality that is rarely true. This can be due to a variety of reason. One might be that the power supply is weak. It does fine at 8 ohms but runs out of current at 4 ohms. However, with may modern amps, there is additional protection at 4 ohms, and that might limit the apparent power rating. Still, the 4 ohm power should be noticeably higher than the 8 ohm power.

Personally, I rely mostly on the RMS/FTC/continuous power rating at 8 ohms to tell me whether an amp is going to perform the way I want it to. Other are more inclined to look at the DIN/EIA power. Though realistically, we should all look at both.

Amp are not 8 ohms amps. That is, when you see 50w to 8 ohms, that doesn't imply that the amp will only work with 8 ohm speakers. The 8 ohms aspect is merely a reference point for the rated power. As I've said, based on pure math, low impedance results in higher power consumption. But, high power consumption does not mean a better amp or better sound. It is really all about voltage and current, not power.

Typically, any amp worth having, which includes nearly every amp made, will handle any combined per channel load in the range of 4 ohms to 16 ohms. If you go below 4 ohms, the current demands get to high and the amp over heats and shuts down. If the load impedance get to high, above 16 ohms, the amp becomes unstable as starts to self-oscillate. Self-oscillate is just a fancy way of saying the amp will sound like 'feedback', a high pitched squealing sound.

The amp will 'clip' or reach its limits or ceiling based on available voltage, and the ability of the amp to deliver current at that voltage. If the current capacity fails, then the voltage will fall resulting in less power consumed. So, a given amp driving 8 ohm load, and the same amp driving 4 ohm loads, still have the same voltage and current limits. To get more voltage and hopefully more current, you need a higher powered amp. My point here is that while the power consumption seems higher if you have 4 ohms speakers, the real gain is very slight, and since the voltage limit is equal or less, you really don't gain anything.

To illustrate my point here are several power rating with the corresponding voltage limit to an 8 ohm load - V = SqRt(P x R)

50w = 20 volts
100w = 28.3v
200w = 40v

Notice a little bit of voltage increase gives you a lot of power increase. Double the voltage (20v vs 40v) give you FOUR TIMES the power increase.

Speaker power and impedance -

Speaker power is, more or less, the limit for that speaker. It is the most power you can use, not the ideal power. Likely you can run a 100 watt speaker just fine on a 40 watt amp.

Now some speakers give a range of power as in 25w to 100w. That means the manufacturer is recommending that you do not use these speakers on amps of less than 25watts, and that you don't use them on amps of more than 100w.

In reality neither of these is an absolute limit. If you needs are modest, you can probably get by just fine with a 15 watt amp. Further many people put 100w speakers on 150w amps on the assumption that you are never going to run your amp at full power. This usually works out fine AS LONG AS you understand and respect the limits of your equipment.

A speakers rated impedance is the sort of impedance of that speaker. Typically the impedance will drop to about 0.75 of the rated impedance and can go as high as 10 time or more of the rated impedance. But overall, you can consider the rated impedance to be a fair representation.

The impedance matters because it reflect how heavily it is going to load your amp. This is especially critical if you are going to put more than one speaker on each amp channel.

Most speaker can be taken at their rated impedance, but there are a few, though thankfully somewhat rare, speakers that can have extreme impedance swings. I recall seeing one speaker, a very large floorstander, that had a rated impedance of 8 ohms, but had a side note that the impedance could drop as low as 3.2 ohms. To run that speaker, you need a substantial quality amp, and you can only run one speaker per channel, even though the overall or nominal rating is 8 ohms.

So, with a few rare exception, any speaker will match any amp. When using multiple speaker per channel, we must make sure that the nominal total rated impedance doesn't drop below 4 ohms.

Now there are a few rare amp that can tolerate lower load. I think maybe NAD is rated a 2 ohms, though I wouldn't recommend running it at that load. But you could probably safely use two 6 ohms speaker per channel or a 8 ohm and a 6 ohms together.

There are high powered professional expensive amps that will easily handle 2 ohm load though. But few consumers ever encounter them.

In short, look for an amp that is 40 watts or more to 8 ohms. That amp will handle virtually any speaker that you are likely to buy.



Standard Member
thank you steve and medrep1... appreciate your help very much....

well as its my 1st system i was hoping to buy an 'INTEGRATED' amp (if im getting it right), an equalizer and a good pair of floorstanding speakers(correct me if im wrong...still trying to learn the key terms and names).... 1st off the amp.... i mean there are so many things to check before getting an amp which will atleast have a standard quality..... i would really appreciate if you could tell me few names along with the model number of amps i can look into..... that will really help me to measure what im after and can help to compare with what ever is out there that might meet my needs... as i've said before i want sound to be as sweet as it can be.... clear, crisp, deep, heavy and mainly very detailed.... well i have raised my budget for the amp to minimum 200 and max 300 pounds... as mentioned before ebay is my first choice to buy the components but if i get any new on my budget in a store, ill grab it.....

moving on to speakers...... well yes i want a pair of floorstander..... but what is it that i should keep in my mind before getting one (oviously ill ask you all before i get one)? well i do know what the different shape speakers do...tweeter for the highs, mid for the mids and woofer for the lows.... what worries me are the watt and the impedance.... what is the ideal number for these?budget for the speaker system is around 200 pounds....

last but not the least is the equalizer....i still havent looked into it as im still too wraped up with the amp and the lets keep that aside for now....

if any of you have any link to ebay on a good amp or speakers please be kind enough to let me know......

thank you.....
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Standard Member
any words on sony str de845 receiver?? i know now sony is crap... read a review on it and seemed pretty nice.... just asking? how is it? i know my need is a stereo amp not a AV receiver...but this sony receiver is very cheap and has a good review which made me curious... and besides i was hoping for a sourround system....but for the limited budget and need of an atleast standard system i decided to get a stereo amp for now.... but i always have an option of upgrading my system in the future...


Standard Member
A rough list of AMPs i found (please Comment on these amps and ADD more if possible) :

* Onkyo TX8522
* Harman Kardon 3485
* Azur 640A
* Yamaha A-S700
* Sony STR-DE845 AV receiver
* ........(continues)

few are 70-80 pounds more then my budget....but im ready to pay extra on the sound quality.....

motile rod 2

Novice Member
Don't get an av amp, they're not designed for music and generally don't sound very good, especially at your price range. You'll get much more for your money from a stereo amp. I think you should also be directing the majority of your funds to your speakers, at your budget this will make the biggest difference to sound quality, especially with floorstanders.


Active Member
Hi raian,

To confuse things even further, you also need to consider what sound you prefer. Generally most systems sound bright (detailed yet sometimes harsh), warm (sweet sounding with some loss of detail) or somewhere in between. Amps and speakers have their own personalities, it's a case of trial and error, mixing and matching.

I do believe second hand is the way to go, you get a lot more quality for your money.

Good luck, putting together a system is half the fun :smashin:


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