Help choosing hifi system; confessions of a noob

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by dancelittleliar, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. dancelittleliar

    Standard Member

    Aug 29, 2013
    Products Owned:
    Products Wanted:
    Trophy Points:
    I intend to buy a hifi system from the ground up, for around £1000 (so relatively budget I suppose), and am not quite sure what I even need, never mind which models etc. to go for. I thought a forum would be a good place to start in curing my ignorance

    So basically I want is a separates system that can cater for

    1) Vinyl
    2) MP3/ AUX
    3) CDs

    In that order of importance.

    It would be nice, but not necessary if it had an iPod dock thing, but if that's going to be another component it would probably stretch my budget a bit thin

    I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) this leaves me needing speakers, an amp, a turntable and a CD player. However from a bit of cursory reading about turntable systems I've read I need a pre amp, and I'm not sure what this is, if it's built in, do I need it and all the rest.

    Also I thought I should say that the CD or MP3 bit isn't absolutely necessary and I was considering leaving one out if it means I have to buy too many separates (probably just missing out a CD player)

    Can anyone offer any advice on what I should be getting, from where and for how much?
  2. sounddog

    Well-known Member

    Dec 11, 2002
    Products Owned:
    Products Wanted:
    Trophy Points:
    Leicestershire, UK
    To answer one question... The pre-amp referred to is a phono pre-amp. Because the output level of a phono cartridge is much lower than a CD player (or most other devices) it needs to be amplified before (pre) the main amplifier. This can be internal to the amplifier or more common these days with a separate box.

  3. BlueWizard

    Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2007
    Products Owned:
    Products Wanted:
    Trophy Points:
    When you say MP3, what do you mean? Does that imply you need to Stream Audio over a home network?

    A quality basic entry level Turntable is going to cost about £299.

    £299 = Project Debut Carbon with Ortofon 2M Red Cartridge.

    Similarly, the Rega RP1, which when a 2M Red is added is about £315.

    These, while both are certainly good turntables, they are about the minimum anyone would recommend.

    As to the PHONO Equalization Pre-Amp, some amps already have that built-in. So, you need will depend on the amp you choose.

    Typically, I break down a Stereo System like this.

    1x =Turntable (1.5x if it needs a cartridge upgrade)
    1x = CD Player
    1x = Amp/Receiver
    2x = Speakers

    Give that you need everything, we have a total of 5x. So, £1000 / 5 = £200. So, roughly £200 for each component, and £400/pr for speakers. This is not etched in stone, but it establishes a starting perspective.

    In a powerful well-rated amp in its price range, it is hard to beat the Yamaha AS500 which has a built-in PHONO as well as a solid 85w/ch of power. Priced at about £279. Though you might find it for less if you shop around.

    There is no matching CD Player to the Yamaha 500, so you either need the Yamaha CDS300 or the Yamaha CDS700. I think the CDS700 is going to be something of a budget buster. The Yamaha CDS300 is about £199.

    So, now if we assume this equipment, we have -

    £299/ea = Project Debut Carbon
    £279/ea = Yamaha AS500 Amp
    £199/ea = Yamaha AS300 CD Player
    £777 = Sub-Total

    That leaves a modest £223 for speakers.

    But your budget did not seem that ridged, so can we say £300 to perhaps £500 for speakers?

    One way to lower the price is to get the still very nice Yamaha AS300 with 60w/ch and a built-in PHONO stage. I think the price is about £199. So that adds £79 more to the speaker budget.

    The Marantz PM6004 and the matching CD6004 are highly regarded and are about £250 each. The PM6004 amp has a modest 45w/ch but it really is a highly regarded amp.

    If you can find a deal on the Denon PMA720 and the matching DCD-720 CD Player, these normally sell for about £350 each, but can be had on Sale for about £199 each from the right sources. The PMA-720 is about 50w/ch.

    Prices vary a lot on the Denon. In checking the Model numbers I found them for £250 each, which is still a good price. But I know I have seen them for closer to £200 each.

    As you can see from the prices and power rating, the Yamaha AS500 with 85w/ch is something of a bargain, and it was rated the best amp in its class by "What HiFi?" in their review.

    Moving back to speakers, I think we need more of a sense of what you are looking for and how the speaker will be used.

    Floorstanding or Bookshelf?

    What are the dimensions of the room?

    Any other preferences, priorities, and/or restrictions you might have?

    What type of music?

    I think topping the list and closest to your budget it the Acoustic Energy Neo 3. I've heard nothing but good things about this speakers, and in addition, I've never heard a bad word against them. Most comment on the impressive bass for the price.

    Acoustic Energy Neo 3 V2 Speakers (Pair) (Black Only) at Audio Affair


    £499/pr = Dali Zensor 5
    £499/pr = Monitor Audio BX5
    £329/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 10.4 (limited stock,
    £499/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 155

    On the lower price end, the Tannoy Mercury V4 are worth a look and listen -

    Tannoy Mercury V4 Speakers (Pair) Sugar Maple (Ex Display) at Audio Affair

    Tannoy Mercury V4 Speakers (Pair) at Audio Affair

    If you can push your speaker budget up to £500/pr then the Dali Zensor 5, the Monitor Audio BX5, and the Wharfedale Diamond speakers are definitely worth a look.

    So, if we assume all of the above, the new total is

    £777 + £500 = £1277 TOTAL for a complete system, plus wire and accessories.

    If you choose bookshelf speakers, that price can probably come down a bit. But the systems outlined here would be very good, and I think most would agree with me on that.

    Doing some other research, I stumbled across this -


    £899 for Yamaha Amp, CD, MA-BX5 Speakers plus another £299 for the Turntable bring the final total to about £1200. That's a nice system.

    For what it is worth.


Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice