Help Needed - I need to spend some cash !

jason44mag

Well-known Member
Hey All,

Firstly thanks for the help provided on my other threads I have posted on the forums, I now have a better idea of what I am looking for but need some guidance on what to go for.

I have a pair of KEF XQ5s and was originally going to run them with an av amp for buth surround sound & music but after being told off by Mr Pig :D I have decided to go for a 2 channel amp (but still feed the tv through it).

My requirements would be that I need to be able to play digital music through the amp (just via ipod or external portable HD) but later I would like to possibly add a NAS or micro server to handle the storage of music.

I would like the option to pair the amp with a decent cd player later & perhaps have the ability to be able to add an av amp and more speakers at a later date.

My only other requirement is that the amp would need to do a very decent job of getting the best out of the KEFs.

I have been looking at the Naim amps (Naimuniti) but they are way above my budget at the moment.

In terms of cash available, 1000.00 pounds would be my limit at the moment but I would be happy to look around the second hand market for something that is a few years old but still makes most of the recent gear look poor (if that makes sense?)

I would assume I would need to go for an integrated amp?

I am sorry if I am asking simular questions as my old thread but I am still a bit lost on what to buy :blush:
 

amcluesent

Distinguished Member
Marantz M-CR603 would be the obvious choice if a NaimUniti is budget challenging.

S/PDIF and analogue in for the TV
USB for the iPhone
CD player
UPnP for NAS and Airplay streaming

You'd need to audition, but I've found the best of these mini systems (i.e. Onkyo CR-515) will pair OK with higher-end speakers
 
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jason44mag

Well-known Member
ive not come across this unit before

will it pair well with the kefs? and have enough power to drive them?

I should also mention that i will be playing cds too so need a setup not just geared towards digital music.

Also important to mention that I want the best sound possible and would prefer to add stuff later to meet my requirements then settle for something mediocre that ticks all the box's straight away(not saying the marantz in medicocre btw).

Is the marantz that good? or can anyone suggest anything that would be more appropriate?
 
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Mr Pig

Well-known Member
On the digital front what you want is a nice DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter). That will let you plug digital sources into your stereo amp. You don't need to spend a massive amount, a Beresford 7520 or Caiman sounds pretty nice and has lots of inputs and switching. It would cover your needs.

An iPod can just plug straight into an analogue input on any amp, you don't need a DAC for that. Sounds crap though, it's a coaster with buttons, Hi-Fi it ain't.

If you get an older Naim pre-power it will be much cheaper than a Uniti and sound better. My stock recommendation would be a 72/140 but there are a lot of amps to choose from. A guy I know just bought a Nait3 for £180 and he's very happy with it.

Be warned though. Once you've got a really good amplifier like a Naim just about every AV amp you'll hear is going to sound rubbish. It's not a problem, just that you'll probably want to stick with stereo once you get used to how good it can be.
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
Thanks again Mr Pig, just to be clear, if i went down the seperates route then i would need a
DAC, Pre amp then CD player later? would i not need a power amp?

Do the integrated amps have DAC built in?

I am a little confused/torn between the seperates setup or a one box solution???
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
On the digital front what you want is a nice DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter). That will let you plug digital sources into your stereo amp. You don't need to spend a massive amount, a Beresford 7520 or Caiman sounds pretty nice and has lots of inputs and switching. It would cover your needs.

An iPod can just plug straight into an analogue input on any amp, you don't need a DAC for that. Sounds crap though, it's a coaster with buttons, Hi-Fi it ain't.

If you get an older Naim pre-power it will be much cheaper than a Uniti and sound better. My stock recommendation would be a 72/140 but there are a lot of amps to choose from. A guy I know just bought a Nait3 for £180 and he's very happy with it.


Be warned though. Once you've got a really good amplifier like a Naim just about every AV amp you'll hear is going to sound rubbish. It's not a problem, just that you'll probably want to stick with stereo once you get used to how good it can be.

Just spotted these for sale here in NZ,
Naim NAC72 preamp/NAP140 poweramp | Trade Me

Edit: Just emailed the seller & it looks like these are going to sell for more than my budget :-(

Back to the drawing board!

Is there a midrange i should be considering (thats assuming the Naim gear is high end?)
 
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Mr Pig

Well-known Member
If I went down the separates route then i would need a DAC, Pre amp then CD player later? would i not need a power amp?

A pre-power amp is just like an integrated amp but split into two parts. The part that switches all the inputs and adjusts the volume is in one box and the part that amplifies the signal to drive the speakers is in another. So you need both parts.

You can mix and match brands but it's safest and simplest to buy both from the one manufacturer. So you could buy any Naim pre-amp and it will work with amp Naim power amp.

the 72/140 were mid range. You could get a 62 or 92 pre-amp with a 90 power amp. Or if you're happy to buy even older stuff a 32 or 42 pre-amp with a 110 power amp. There is a lot of used Naim out there.

Naim make integrated amps too so you could look at a Nait3 or Nait5, the 1 and 2 are just too underpowered for many situations.

Also keep an eye out for Exposure amps. Very like Naim in a lot of ways better in some ways, and less for less.

Do the integrated amps have DAC built in?

Some do but only the ones made very recently. Nothing made much before this time last week will have a DAC in it, except for AV amps which have DACs, filters, fridges and just about everything built into them! Great if you want a lot of buttons to play around with, not so good if you don't want your music to get raped in its way through the box.

I am a little confused/torn between the separates setup or a one box solution???

The only one-box solutions that would meet your needs are brand new. The downside there obviously is that you don't get the same value as you would buying used. You could get much better sound quality by buying a used amp and a separate DAC etc.

Have you looked at the Naim Uniticute? This side of the world it's close to your budget and would do the job, although not sound as good as older stuff.
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
Thanks Mr Pig

Its a bit soul destroying that the 72/140 were mid range & still out of my budget :(

I looked at the Uniticute but it was about 1500 new (not much around 2nd hand).

I must admit the price of the Marantz looks tempting as soes the XTZ amp (but cant get it here) but I dont want to be sitting wondering "what if" do the XQ5's really deserve the top of the range do them justice?
 

Mr Pig

Well-known Member
Its a bit soul destroying that the 72/140 were mid range & still out of my budget

Well, if you were thinking of top of the range, Naim's best pre-amp costs over sixteen-thousands pounds. And that's just the pre, you'd need a power amp to go with it! That would be another sixteen-thousand pounds. So unless you've got over thirty-grand to drop on an amplifier I'd pick your soul up of the floor if I were you ;0)

The 72/140 shouldn't be over your budget, guy's pushing his luck a bit. Keep looking and let me know what you find. Don't forget to look at Exposure too, good amps. I use an old Meridian amp that is very cheap to buy used but sounds great. Better than the 72/140 and twice as powerful. You could buy one of those if you want high quality at a low price.


do the XQ5's really deserve the top of the range to do them justice?

The better the amplifier and source, the better the speakers will sound. When you hear it you'll understand. There's a guy on here who was running a surround system with over a grands worth of AV amp. He came out to my house and heard my stereo system which uses an amp and speakers that together cost less than his AV amp and was blown away. He's now bought a Naim Nait3 integrated amp for £180 and is a very happy bunny.
 

Mr Pig

Well-known Member
By the way, if you don't want the hassle of buying used, both Naim and Exposure sell integrated amps under £1000.
 

Jules Tohpipi

Well-known Member
A secondhand Quad solution is worth adding to your shortlist. Specifically a Quad 99CDP and 909 power amp.

The CD player is excellent and has six digital inputs for other stuff (three optical and three coax). It also has pre-out sockets that allow direct connection to a decent power amp. Rather than using cheap attenuators for the pre-out, it actually uses the same pot from the 99Pre - so it's a short-signal-path, audiophile solution. They tend to go for around £300-400 on that auction site.

Then you are free to just add a top-flight power amp of any description. A used Quad 909 would be ideal and might come within the overall budget. The 909 is very popular and hold its value well though, so you might wish to consider the next model down i.e. the 99Stereo. These tend to be a bargain on the s/h market.

The plus points of the above are that you are getting in just two boxes, effectively, a £1000 CD player + £1000 Pre + £1000 Power. So all the digital sources will sound fab, plus the 909 will drive anything a treat.

Only downside to the above is that it's not very analogue-input friendly. The 99CDP has no analogue inputs. If, and only if, the analogue inputs are a low priority, then you could shoehorn-in a cheap ADC between the analogue sources and the CDP. Otherwise you're in for the full 99Pre also, which will take you a little over budget - depending on which power amp you go for.
 
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jason44mag

Well-known Member
By the way, if you don't want the hassle of buying used, both Naim and Exposure sell integrated amps under £1000.

Oh i dint realise that, do they have a DAC in too or would i need to add this later?

What sort of models would i need to look out for?
 

Mr Pig

Well-known Member
do they have a DAC in too

Nope. Having been into Hi-Fi for decades I've come to the conclusion that the best way to get a good sound is to keep it simple. If you add functions to an amplifier it costs money and often degrades the sound, as these extra bits share the power supply etc.

It also hurts flexibility. If you buy an amp with a DAC built in, what happens if you want to use a different kind of DAC in five-years time? The Beresford DACs have been constantly upgraded for years, and the price has came down. Using an external DAC should be cheaper, offer more flexibility and should sound as good as buying an amp with a DAC built in.

The Naim Nait 5i LINK costs just over £800.

Exposure integrated amps LINK start at just over £700

I've not heard either of these amps but, knowing the manufacturers, I'd be very surprised if they were bad! Look for reviews, I expect they'll be good ;0)
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Let's back up a bit, we have a £1000 budget, but let's be clear what that budget needs to buy us now, and what can be left to future budget.

- We need and AMP for sure, and it seems stereo at this point.
- Do we need the ability to connect true digital sources now? Presumably.
- CD comes in a later budget - yes or no?
- iPod connection?
- Does NAS and streaming audio come in this budget, or is that for a later budget?

Given the budget, I would say an amp in the range of £500 to £750.

DACs are going to be in the range of £150 to £250, with a couple options in the £300 to £400 range.

iPod is easy enough. Many new amps come with an input on the front that connects to the headphone out of any iPod, iPad, MP3, or computer. If not that, then a simple iPod Dock will do. These can range from £10 to roughly £50, and when you are in the £30 an up range, they usually come with their own remote control to control the iPod, and act as charging stations for the iPod.

As to NAS and streaming audio, I think one very nice simply solution is the Logitech Squeezebox Touch. The nice thing about this is it has an USB input that connects nicely to a 'Thumb' drive, but also to USB hard drives. It will also stream music (wired or wireless) from any local computer or NAS storage device. The Squeezebox Touch is priced from £200 to £250 depending on the source, and at that price, considering both local and remote storage, probably outweighs a CD Player.

But, given your £1000 budget and the fact that a DAC and Squeezebox can run up to half that budget, that leaves us functional and workable, but a little tight on the amp side.

As for Stereo vs Surround Sound, it sounds like you've already had this conversation with Mr Pig. My stereo does a thunderous job for video watching. It is actually scary sometime how intense the sound is. But, that said, as nice as it sounds and as much as I like it, it is not surround sound. I'm happy with that, I would prefer to put my limited money in better quality rather than spread it thin over more amps and more speakers.

But, that is a very individual decision, Mr. Pig or Mr Bluewizard can not and should not make that for you. What do you want? What are your priorities? If your top priority is music, then get a stereo music system and it will be fine for video. But, if video is your top priority, then things get complicated and expensive, if you are trying to make both a video and top notch music system.

The Naim Uniti, while it ticks all or most of your boxes, seems beyond your budget by a long shot. My researching indicate more than double you stated budget.

In amps, though there are many more, start by looking at these -

Marantz PM7004

Marantz PM8003

The Marantz PM7004 has decent power, decent quality, and is very near your budget limit if you plan to buy other components.

Though, I am intentionally consuming all your money, here is a suggestion -

Marantz PM7004 = £550
Cambridge DACMagic = £230
Logitech Squeezebox Touch = £250

That puts you £30 over budget. Though keep in mind the Beresford DAC are also highly rated and only cost about £150. And, from the right source the Logitech can be as low as £200. And you can probably find an older PM7003 for a little less money.

Again, this is only the smallest window into the possible combinations, but it at least gives you a sense of what is possible at your current budget.

You are actually asking a very complex question, because there are so many possible ways to go with it. And when you start including used, things triple in terms of complexity.

If there is any way you can narrow your list down to precisely what you need right now from that budget, we can probably narrow down the range of choices.

But, at least, you have a framework to start from.

Marantz UK | PM7004

Squeezebox

DacMagic Digital to Analogue Converter

Beresford Media & Electronics Ltd

Home HIFI Beresford in the UK

Steve/bluewizard
 
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Ruahine

Active Member
Just spotted these for sale here in NZ,
Naim NAC72 preamp/NAP140 poweramp | Trade Me

Edit: Just emailed the seller & it looks like these are going to sell for more than my budget :-(

Back to the drawing board!

Is there a midrange i should be considering (thats assuming the Naim gear is high end?)

Hey buddy.

If you are based in NZ have you given the Audioenz forum a look? Might be worth posting a query on there as well?

There are a few NZ-made amps you might want to consider as well..

High End Hi Fi Audio Amplifiers for Audiophiles : Perreaux (International)
PLINIUS AUDIO - plinius, plinius audio hifi, plinus, plinius 9200, plinius amplifiers, plinius amplifier, plinius 8150, plimius, pliniusaudio, plinius m14, www.pliniusaudio.com, www.pliniusaudio.nzld.com, plinius 8100, plinius amps, plinius jarrah, p

These could be more cost-effective in NZ than overseas ones and there are more of these for sale second-hand on trademe as well. Although I haven't bought or heard these amps myself.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

Jono
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
Hey buddy.

If you are based in NZ have you given the Audioenz forum a look? Might be worth posting a query on there as well?

There are a few NZ-made amps you might want to consider as well..

High End Hi Fi Audio Amplifiers for Audiophiles : Perreaux (International)
PLINIUS AUDIO - plinius, plinius audio hifi, plinus, plinius 9200, plinius amplifiers, plinius amplifier, plinius 8150, plimius, pliniusaudio, plinius m14, www.pliniusaudio.com, www.pliniusaudio.nzld.com, plinius 8100, plinius amps, plinius jarrah, p

These could be more cost-effective in NZ than overseas ones and there are more of these for sale second-hand on trademe as well. Although I haven't bought or heard these amps myself.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

Jono

Will check it out, thanks man
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
Let's back up a bit, we have a £1000 budget, but let's be clear what that budget needs to buy us now, and what can be left to future budget.

- We need and AMP for sure, and it seems stereo at this point.
- Do we need the ability to connect true digital sources now? Presumably.
- CD comes in a later budget - yes or no?
- iPod connection?
- Does NAS and streaming audio come in this budget, or is that for a later budget?

Given the budget, I would say an amp in the range of £500 to £750.

DACs are going to be in the range of £150 to £250, with a couple options in the £300 to £400 range.

iPod is easy enough. Many new amps come with an input on the front that connects to the headphone out of any iPod, iPad, MP3, or computer. If not that, then a simple iPod Dock will do. These can range from £10 to roughly £50, and when you are in the £30 an up range, they usually come with their own remote control to control the iPod, and act as charging stations for the iPod.

As to NAS and streaming audio, I think one very nice simply solution is the Logitech Squeezebox Touch. The nice thing about this is it has an USB input that connects nicely to a 'Thumb' drive, but also to USB hard drives. It will also stream music (wired or wireless) from any local computer or NAS storage device. The Squeezebox Touch is priced from £200 to £250 depending on the source, and at that price, considering both local and remote storage, probably outweighs a CD Player.

But, given your £1000 budget and the fact that a DAC and Squeezebox can run up to half that budget, that leaves us functional and workable, but a little tight on the amp side.

As for Stereo vs Surround Sound, it sounds like you've already had this conversation with Mr Pig. My stereo does a thunderous job for video watching. It is actually scary sometime how intense the sound is. But, that said, as nice as it sounds and as much as I like it, it is not surround sound. I'm happy with that, I would prefer to put my limited money in better quality rather than spread it thin over more amps and more speakers.

But, that is a very individual decision, Mr. Pig or Mr Bluewizard can not and should not make that for you. What do you want? What are your priorities? If your top priority is music, then get a stereo music system and it will be fine for video. But, if video is your top priority, then things get complicated and expensive, if you are trying to make both a video and top notch music system.

The Naim Uniti, while it ticks all or most of your boxes, seems beyond your budget by a long shot. My researching indicate more than double you stated budget.

In amps, though there are many more, start by looking at these -

Marantz PM7004

Marantz PM8003

The Marantz PM7004 has decent power, decent quality, and is very near your budget limit if you plan to buy other components.

Though, I am intentionally consuming all your money, here is a suggestion -

Marantz PM7004 = £550
Cambridge DACMagic = £230
Logitech Squeezebox Touch = £250

That puts you £30 over budget. Though keep in mind the Beresford DAC are also highly rated and only cost about £150. And, from the right source the Logitech can be as low as £200. And you can probably find an older PM7003 for a little less money.

Again, this is only the smallest window into the possible combinations, but it at least gives you a sense of what is possible at your current budget.

You are actually asking a very complex question, because there are so many possible ways to go with it. And when you start including used, things triple in terms of complexity.

If there is any way you can narrow your list down to precisely what you need right now from that budget, we can probably narrow down the range of choices.

But, at least, you have a framework to start from.

Marantz UK | PM7004

Squeezebox

DacMagic Digital to Analogue Converter

Beresford Media & Electronics Ltd

Home HIFI Beresford in the UK

Steve/bluewizard


Thanks Steve, you have asked some really important & pertinent questions

Firstly, my main priority is music but I would be playing movies through the 2 channel & hope to get something that sounds ok for movies (I can always add a av amp later if I feel the need to).

In terms of budget vs priorty I guess the easiest way to answer that is to look at what my music is currently made up of. At the moment my music is stored on my macbook pro (in lossless format) and backed up to external hd.

I would like to get the best out of this music & make it easy to access my collection. I guess this means that my first purchases would be an integrated amp & dac?

I would like to be able to access the music without having to have my macbook on all the time so I was thinking of going down the route of Nas or Server etc?

Would i still need a Nas with a squeezebox?

My budget may be a little optimistic but I am hoping to have approx 800 - 1000 to get these initial bits sorted (I will add a CD player later on with additional funding)

I would like to stress that I know I am not likely to get audiophile quality with my budget or digital music but I would still like to get the best quality that I can.

Hope this helps a bit more?
 

Bertiebee

Standard Member
If you are looking to buy new rather than used then why not try an XTZ Class A 100 D3?

They can be run in class A or AB, have built in DAC and on the whole have received rave reviews in the hi-fi press. They are a lot of amp for the money (not sure how easy they are to get in NZ though).
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The Logitech Squeezebox Touch has a USB input that will support either 'Thumb' drives or a USB hard drive. But, I don't know if that hard drive is accessble from the network. I'm not saying it is not, I'm simply saying I don't know. But if you have one stereo, and that stereo is connected to the Touch, then all locally stored music is accessible to the stereo.

Further since the Touch is also connected to the network, and music on the network is also available, assuming the Logitech server program is running.

You could easily move the USB hard drive to your computer, transfer any new files, then move it back to the Stereo. You shouldn't really need the computer at all.

Now, it gets more complicated if you intend to have multiple Logitech Touch systems. Again, I'm not sure if they can share files contain on a hard drive connected to the Touch. Though certainly they can share files connected by computer or NAS.

This might be a question to be posted in the Audio Streaming forum -

Streamers & Network Music Players Forum at AVForums.com

But at about £250, the Touch is a pretty nice unit with pretty high versatility. Though if you want specific, check the Streaming forum.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Ben Jammin

Active Member
If you plug hard drive into the Squeezebox the hard drive is not accessible to the network

Im actually finding the Squeezebox buggy and fiddly as hell with a USB hard drive, i just keep my PC on instead which is a bit annoying. I work in IT so could prob fix it but its not simple and im lazy.
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
If you are looking to buy new rather than used then why not try an XTZ Class A 100 D3?

They can be run in class A or AB, have built in DAC and on the whole have received rave reviews in the hi-fi press. They are a lot of amp for the money (not sure how easy they are to get in NZ though).

Can i ask what is class A or AB?

I have been in touch with XTZ & whilst there isnt a dealer in NZ they can post one out to me but it is quite expensive:(

One other thought is how the XTZ would compare to the Naim gear?

With it already having a DAC would i just need to plug my external HD or macbook?
 

Member 281695

Active Member
Hi!

Class A or AB are two different kinds of operating conditions for amplifiers. Basically, class A is a condition where the biasing current through the output transistors is present throughout the entire signal cycle. This is unefficient, causing more heat dissipation, but the gain is that crossover distorsion is greatly reduced. Class AB is more efficient, but with the drawback of higher distorsion. With the Class A100 D3 amp you can select whatever mode you prefer at any given time. If you want to really concentrate at listening to a piece of music you can use the class A mode, and if you just want some background music you might as well switch to class AB and let the amp run cooler.

:)

/Rikard
 

jason44mag

Well-known Member
Well just thought I would update on where I am at!

I took a mate out with me yesterday to several hifi/av shops and here is what occured.

Firstly, at each shop I told the assistant that I had the KEF XQ's and was looking for something to drive them (I also explained that most of my music was digital and stored on my macbook & I would also like to run movies through the setup.

Shop 1
The guy recommended the Marantz 7003 amp & also recommended adding a cambridge audio DAC magic to handle the digital music. I listened to the 7003 via a pair of budget mordant shorts and I have to say it sounded really nice.

Shop 2
The guy firstly started to recommend the NAD NCR375 but moved on to the Yamaha AV range. We listened to the rxv-1065 with a pair of mission speakers but I have to say they didnt sound anywhere as near as good as the marantz. We also listened to a Yamaha av amp (think it was the aventage range) over 5.1 with PBS speakers playing transformers 2 & it sounded pretty impressive!

Shop 3
This shop was a KEF dealer so I was hopeful of some good advice. We demoed the Onkyo A-5VL amp with a paif of KEF IQ's and they sounded pretty good. I explained that I was happy to play movie through the Hi-Fi amp but he was pretty adamant that I should look at an av amp (due to the hifi amps being only good for music) and hifi amps not having any digital inputs so my PS3 & blu-ray player would be going to waste, he then recommended the Onkyo TX-NR708 (AV amp) which he said also had an audio only button which turned off the other channels and only used 2 channels to get really good stereo?

I also listened to a onkyo av amp just playing a movie through two channels & it didnt sound very good at all.

I was a bit dubious about the whole thing so departed :confused:

So I am no further forward but at least I had a good listen to what was available on the day.

I have spent hours going over things in my head, especially about what I want & what it needs to do and I am currently thinking along the lines of:
1. Integrated AMP (to keep the number of boxs down so I can add a AV amp later)
2. Add a DAC to do a great job with my digital music library.
3. Add an av amp later for additional speakers (hoping that the integrated amp will enable me to add an av amp on?
4. Add a CD Player that matches the integrated amp nicely.
5. Possibly add a Nas & squeezebox (or something simular) to the DAC so I can access music library without having my PC on.

Hope this makes sense & please let me know if you think I am barking up the wrong tree entirely!

Would have been nice if I could have stumbled on a amp that does everything well but I assume this doesnt exist yet :blush:

Thoughts?
 

Ben Jammin

Active Member
Shop number 3 sounds like he's insane. Stereo amp only good for music and not movies? That doesn't make any sense. I can't even begin to explain how little sense that makes. And Onkyo have a reputation for being really bad for stereo. It's no good being able to turn off all channels except 2 if those 2 channels are rubbish is it!

If music is your priority, get a stereo Amp. I would say keep searching and listening, you will find one that just jumps out at you and you know it's the one. DAC will help but IMO you won't need to demo them so much, they are all fairly similar. If you are getting a squeezebox IMO you won't need a DAC, the internal squeezebox DAC is very good.

Worry about all the other stuff later! I've no knowledge about adding extra speakers or whatever.

Go back to Shop 1, thank them for not being retarded and do some more listening :) can you take your speakers with you?
 
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Mr Pig

Well-known Member
It's interesting that you went out looking for a stereo amp to make music sound as good as possible and some shops just played you a movie through an AV amp anyway! You need to find better shops.

At least the first shop listened to you. I would forget the second two. I would try to move up market though. Don't worry about the cost, just try to figure out what it is that you want and then figure out how to get it within your budget later.

I hate salesmen! There are some good guys in retail but the majority just want to push what they stock, what they make the most profit on and whatever helps them hit their targets for the month. It also has to be said that a lot of them simply don't have a clue, wouldn't know good Hi-Fi if it fell on them and talk rubbish.

Don't give up and don't compromise. Trust your instincts, if it sounds bad it is bad.
 

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