Advice needed from newbie!

Hi all!

After getting fed up with the quality of my MP3s on iTunes (missing lot of frequencies)*, i have decided to switch back to CDs.

I had a massive CD collection, but sold most of them on :( but used to have crappy Hi-Fi's with loads of gimmicks on etc - real crap.

So now I'm older and wiser, I want a really nice system - preferably separates, but dont know where to start with what to get, brand etc.

Here are the features I would like;

1) CD Player
2) Amp that I can plug my Panasonic LCDTV into via HDMI (this possible?) for sound
3) Headphone socket (current Panasonic home cinema or TV doesnt have one!)
4) Nice speakers - but not fussed about MASSIVE sound at this point as live in appartment - possibly wireless? Good idea?
5) Quality brand

Budget is not a major issue, but not talking 1000's if possible.

Has anyone got any ideas of a system matching that spec please?

Thanks for any help!

* reason I say this, is listening to the same songs in Rock Band (which uses the original masters), you can hear a lot more of the song both instruments and vocals that are barely audible in my MP3 versions and its annoying.
 
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confused88

Novice Member
Are you looking for a hifi or a home-cinema amplifier?
If you prefer a stereo amp. then you may not be able to find hdmi connections but you can still connect all your components to your amp using stereo outs.
The hdmi on the TV is an input that may receive audio/video signal either from a source such as bluray,DVD, skyHD ... or from a home cinema amp, where all your sources(bluray, dvd, sky) are first connected.
Wireless speakers I believe are mostly associated with home cinema receivers and are usually the back speakers, though not completely wireless as they are still connected to a wireless base, just not directly to the receiver. When having 2 speakers only, wireless is naturally less of an issue. Since music seems to be your primary concern you are right to look for a stereo amp. However if you do want extra features and hdmi connectivity I suggest try another thread on the av receivers.
 
Thanks - no purely Hi-Fi really, but the fact i could plug the TV into it would be a bonus as my GF is virtually deaf, so really needs the headphone socket.

The HDMI question was mainly due to the connection already coming out of the TV to the home cinema, so would mean I wouldnt have to go digging round the tv. Its hanging on plasterboard, so the less I move or fiddle with it the better.

Thanks though!
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The first thing you need to do is determine what type of Audio Output your TV has. It many have the common Red and White analog audio outs, if so that is a bonus. The Audio Outs may be hiding in the SCART Connector, in which case you need a £5 adapter to get at them. If not, that means more money.

If your TV has some type of Digital Audio Out, then you need a DAC that can convert the Digital Audio stream into its analog equivalent. These can cost from £100 to just over £200.

So, that leaves

CD Player
Amp
Speakers

Do you have any need to AM/FM or FM/DAB? How about a turntable?

You really have to give us some kind of budget range other wise suggestions are going to be all over the place.

I personally think for a satisfactory stereo, you need at least 40 watt per channel to 8 ohms, though 50 watts or more is preferred. Less than 40 watts is OK for basic casual listening, but it can limit the speakers available to you.

In the meantime, I would suggest looking at some of the Marantz amps and the matching CD players to see if any of them appeal to you. I believe the Marantz SA7003 and SA8003 CD players are both capable of CD and SACD playback. The matching PM7003 amp has 70 watt per channel and a Phono input. The PM7003 amp is about £400 and the SA7003 is about £330.

How does that fit your budget and expectations? Too much? Too little?

The list of brands is almost endless; Sony, Yamaha, Harman Kardon, Cambridge Audio, NAD, Pioneer, and more.

But, a statement of your budget or at least budget range, will help us narrow the possibilities more than anything else.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Thanks! The TV will have the red/white audio outs for sure - but as I said, I wanted to avoid prising it off the wall - but if output via HDMI in some way is not possible then I have little choice.

As for budget - I want a really nice system, so I appreciate that is going to cost a fair whack.

I dont really need radio or a turntable so that should spare some budget up. Somewhere bewtween £500 and £1000 I guess - but I have lost touch how much audio stuff costs, which is why I'm asking for a bit of advice on brands etc. I dont want to go an spend a grand on something that isnt a very good model.

Dont even know where to start looking!
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Well the Marantz I suggested are about £730. To get something reasonably matching them, you would need to spend about £400 or more on a pair of speakers. Total = £1130; is that in your budget range?

While the Marantz are certainly above average quality, there are other amps to consider, though budget drives everything.

If SACD and lots of power is not necessary, then the Marantz PM6003 and SA6003 are possibilities; at about £300 each for 45 watts per channel to 8 ohms.

Look at the various Cambridge Audio models and their matching CD Players.

Look at the various NAD models and their matching CD Players.

If you are trying to maximize what you get for your money, look at the very powerful Harman Kardon amps and Recievers. You can get a HK Reciever with 80 watt/ch in the mid £200's (HK3390), and the 80w/ch integrated amp for the low £200's (HK980). No one is going to say the Harman Kardon are premium quality amps, but most who have bought them are surprised that they perform well above their price.

Harman Kardon also has matching CD Player that range from £150 to about £400.

As a full package deal, you might consider this Amp, CD Player, Tuner for £580 -

http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/Product_ID/5419

That would leave you a ton of money for speakers. Also that same CD player can be found selling in the £350 range from other sources. The next better CD Player, the 990, can be found in the £250 to £350 range on the Internet. (Using Google-UK Shopping for quick and easy price references.)

To some extent what we recommend is going to depend on your priorities.

If you want premium quality above all else, at the sacrifice of power and features, then consider the Rotel amps. But, they are not cheap, a 40 watt amp with a remote control is going to be roughly £400 (RA-05). (though Sight and Sound UK has them for £350 ) A Rotel CD player (RCD-06) is going to be an additional £340, also from Sight and Sound. (SightAndSoundUK.com ) That is high and cutting it thin, but still reasonably within your budget.

If you want a blend of quality and quantity, then most common well known consumer amps will do the job. There are a few of these, like the Harman Kardon, that represent excellent value while still maintaining acceptable quality.

The third option is to absolute maximize what you get for you money. There are a couple of amps (Sony and Teac) that offer nearly 100watts/ch with a Receiver for under £200. Those, I would classify as 'too good to be true'. They will work though, and for someone on a starvation budget, who needs a temporary 'get by' stereo, they might be OK.


Now finally to speakers. What kind of speakers did you have in mind? Can you except large floorstanding speakers, or are we limited to bookshelf? There are several bargain is this area ranging from a modest £150 to a less modest £500.

Wharfedale Diamond 9 series are a bargain right now. SuperFi and AVBristol have the Diamond 9.4 for roughly £150 per pair. Most are selling these for closer to £200 per pair. These are a very good though slightly modest speaker with a single 6.5" woofer. You can still get the substantial Diamond 9.6 for £399. Though available stock is fading fast on all these Diamond 9 series models, as they have been replaced by the series 10.

On the Diamond 9 Cherry finish, these look brighter and redder in the photos than they really are. They are actually a very attractive neutral medium wood with only a hint of red.

The Monitor Audio Bronze are worth a look and they will have a couple of speakers in your price range; BR2, BR5, BR6.

If you can still find them the Monitor Audio Silver RS range has been discontinued, and a pair of RS8's, if I remember correctly, are going for about £450. That's half the normal discount price. These are not advertised discounts, and you will need to call various Monitor Audio dealers to get this low price. Available finishes are limited. You'll find several current threads on this in the Speakers Forum.

Bower Wilkins is always a good choice. I believe the very well rated B&W 685 bookshelf is about £350/pr. The next up, model 684 floorstander is going to push you budget up to nearly £700.

Another possibility is the Tannoy Mercury F4 floorstander for about £300. These have two 6.25" woofers and a 1" tweeter.

There are some Dali Concept models that just squeeze in under your budget.

There are some Acoustic Energy Aelite 3's that are over your budget but worth a look.

To some extent, it depends on how much of your budget goes to the amp and CD Player, and then how much you are willing to dedicate to your speakers, and what any limitations might be on your speakers. I'm trying to stay under £400 for speakers, but if you can move up close to £600, then there are more options.

Again, this is just a cross section of things to look at to give you an idea of what is possible in your budget range.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Well the Marantz ...
Steve/bluewizard
Wow, wish I could give double thanks! Really appreciate that Steve - fantastic! :smashin:

I went into my local Hi-Fi shop today (Rayleigh Hi-Fi Colchester) and spoke to one of the guys in their. They recommended either an Arcam or Rotel - but (ignorantly) I've never heard of those brands.

The Arcam system was £600 for the CD player, £600 for the Amp and then some floor standing speakers (think were Bosch) were £600 - so £1800 for the lot - and that was 'entry level' spec.

I guess like any smaller store they are going to be pricey compared to other larger stores.

But I am going to go through all those links etc Steve and see whats what.

Thanks again! :thumbsup:
 

amcluesent

Well-known Member
Arcam Solo Movie 2.1



The Solo Movie 2.1 incorporates a 1080i upscaling DVD drive, amplification for two speakers with a pre-out for a sub-woofer, DAB/FM tuner and CD playback too. There are analogue and digital audio inputs and outputs, a pair of HDMI inputs and one output, and pre-outs for a pair of active speakers or a power amp.

Monitor Audio Silver RX1 and RXW-12


 
Arcam Solo Movie 2.1

Hmmm cool, thanks! If they did that in a Blu-Ray (and have others separate units in that style) - AND the TV could output to it soundwise via HDMI then that would be ideal. :clap:
 

jagr

Active Member
When in Superfi recently I demoed this setup with a friend an it sounded fantastic:

NAD C326BEE AMPLIFIER £290
NAD C545BEE CD PLAYER £300
WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 10.1 SPEAKERS £200

We then replaced the speakers for the Quad 11L2 (£380), which I preferred but he liked the Wharfedales more.
 
When in Superfi recently I demoed this setup with a friend an it sounded fantastic:

NAD C326BEE AMPLIFIER £290
NAD C545BEE CD PLAYER £300
WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 10.1 SPEAKERS £200

We then replaced the speakers for the Quad 11L2 (£380), which I preferred but he liked the Wharfedales more.
Thanks - looks good and highly rated it seems. Did you get it in the end?
 

jagr

Active Member
Thanks - looks good and highly rated it seems. Did you get it in the end?
Not yet. Once he's decorated, so probably in the next fortnight.
And he is going for the Wharfedales.


He reads lots of reviews and trusts them a bit too much, which is why I suggested the demo to make sure he could live with it.
As been said before, if at all possible make sure you audition as everyones ears are different.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Well, there is no doubt that the Arcam system the store setup for you is fantastic, but it is also double your budget. At least, I'm trying to work within your stated budget.

I use Google-UK Shopping for a quick reference on prices and sources, and you will see that price vary substantially. One place sells the Harman Kardon CD Player for £150, and another place sells the same model player for £350. With such a wide range prices, it is hard to get a sense of the actual value of anything. I think, in most cases, it is best to take an average of the prices to get a sense of the value of the product.

Both the Diamond 9 and Diamond 10 speaker represent good value for the money. However, Diamond 9 are deeply discounted, and the admittedly worth it Diamond 10's are discounted very little at the moment.

I think SuperFi is sold out of the Acoustic Energy Neo-3, but others still have them at a fair price. SightAndSoundUK.com still has them for £200.

At one point Sight and Sound had the Diamond 9.6 for £370, but they also seem to be sold out of them. The remaining source, AVBristol still has them for £399. Though not from AVBristol, I managed to come across a pair of Diamond 9.6 for about £300. Oh happy day, oh happy day; I'm not complaining.

Many places are selling the Monitor Audio Silver RS series at deep discounts, but all unadvertised, the only way to get the deal is to call and ask about it. Again, stocks are dwindling fast on these.

The Dali floorstander are worth a look, but depending on your final budget, and whether you like the style, there are a few models that would fall into your price range. Though available from several sources, you can see a fair cross section of Dali models at HiFix.co.uk.

Personally, if I were going to get one of the Rotel amps, it would be the RA-06 with 70 watts per channel. Unfortunately, they are just under £490. But £485 for the RA-06 amp and £340 for the RCD-06 would bring the total to £825. That cuts you thin on speakers if you are determined to stay in your stated budget. Adding another £400 to that, as an estimate for speakers, would bring the total up to £1225. If you can afford it, that is a pretty attractive price.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard
 
Thanks Steve - I could certainly go to that sort of budget if the system is worth it...

Might go and have a look round the shops tomorrow for some of these you have recommended - see if I can find them set up anywhere.
 

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