Help with first hi-fi set up

richtb

Standard Member
Hi all,

I will be dipping my toe into the world of hi-fi shortly. I’ve always been into music (rock, dance, hip hop) but never really paid much attention to sound quality until I heard a decent pair of stereo speakers for the first time recently - stereo imaging was incredible, lots of space between the different elements, nice warm sound, lots of detail.

I’ve been trawling through this forum, YouTube, and various other places, and find it all a bit baffling tbh, in terms of what to actually need to buy (streamer, DAC, amp, and speakers?), the electrical side of things (ohms, watts, etc) and the various adjectives used to describe sound output (sparkles, forward presentations, etc)

My main objective is to be able to stream music and use with my tv, possibly adding a CD player at some point but not essential.

All of this research has led me to the KEF LSX on ear height speaker stands filled with sand - the sound quality is reportedly very good, all of the components have been chosen to work well with each other (reducing the risk of pairing the wrong amp with the wrong speakers), they are small and look good. All of the bad reviews seem to be linked to the app, for which I assume I could get around by just playing through the Spotify or tidal app? I have also seen a couple of responses on here that have suggested that there’s better out there, without mentioning how it is better, what to get, or whether they are comparing unfavourably to something that costs a lot more.

Before I take the plunge, I would really appreciate your guidance, as I have a nagging feeling that I am just throwing money at the problem and a bit more knowledge would either save money or get better outcomes!

1. can I achieve better quality for the same money (£1000) by buying separates. If so, what would you recommend and how would this option exceed the lsx’s?

2. could I achieve the same quality for less money by buying separates. If so what would you recommend?

3. are there are other downside to the kef lsx that I might not have considered?

Thank you advance!
 
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oscroft

Member
As you're completely new to this, I can't help thinking that a trip to a decent dealer might be the way to go. For the kind of money you're thinking of spending, Richer Sounds should be able to suggest a number of options - and they do stock the KEF LSX. I'm not sure what store opening is like in the current semi-lockdown, but worth considering?
 

richtb

Standard Member
As you're completely new to this, I can't help thinking that a trip to a decent dealer might be the way to go. For the kind of money you're thinking of spending, Richer Sounds should be able to suggest a number of options - and they do stock the KEF LSX. I'm not sure what store opening is like in the current semi-lockdown, but worth considering?
Going to a dealer would be ideal but it’s well over an hour away from where I live unfortunately, so have been putting it off. I called a dealership and they only seemed interested in selling the Kefs, but that wasn’t richer sounds so could try my luck there.

Do I assume correctly from your response that there is “better” out there?
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
TV across a corner always tends to force a compromise on loudspeaker positioning.

Loudspeaker to room interaction is usually the most influential factor on what you hear.

An Integrated system offers great synergy and value but leaves you with minimal Incremental upgrade or experimentation options, leaves you at the mercy of Firmware updates from a single supplier and is a pain if one of the integrated components fails.

Separates allows much more flexibility and scope to keep up with ever changing streaming standards and options and to experiment with and upgrade component incrementally.

The user interface is key with any streaming device or service you go with - possibly more so than absolute audio quality for a lot of folk.

Joe
 

oscroft

Member
Do I assume correctly from your response that there is “better” out there?
There is "different" out there, and opinions as to which is better will vary. I've never heard the KEF LSX, so I'm not offering an opinion on those specifically.

Oh, and what's a few hours traveling compared to the thousands of hours of enjoyment hopefully coming your way? ;)
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Separates allows much more flexibility and scope to keep up with ever changing streaming standards and options and to experiment with and upgrade component incrementally.
This is definitely the thing.
You could buy a decent stereo receiver (Yamaha, Marantz and CA all do good ones) and have £500/£600 for speakers. This is a real sweet spot, with loads of quality options from people like B&W, Dali, Dynaudio etc.
Then, if the upgrade bug hits you in a couple of years, you're not looking at dumping the whole lot and starting again. I started with a very basic system and have just slowly upgraded a piece at time as funds became available. As well as this, once you get to this sort of level there's generally still resale/trade in value in your kit too.
Basically, if you just need a receiver and a good pair of speakers, £1k is a solid budget.
 

Hoku

Active Member
My personal feeling about all in ones systems vs separates is that, in the long term, separates are the better solution. If a significant part of an all in one system becomes obsolete, then the whole system does. For example, how long will KEF be supporting the app the runs the LSX? Just consider the recent flack Sonos have been getting for threatening to make a whole generation of their products obsolete.

I’ll share some advice I heard years ago which really helps to eliminate a whole host of confusing options when you’re starting out and get things down to a sensible shortlist from the barrage of suggestions you may receive (although this advice does only really apply to separates): buy the right speakers for the room, buy the right amp for the speakers and buy the right sources to complement that combo.

Making choices in that order really helps sort the wheat from the chaff.

As others have indicated, your speaker positioning probably dictates that you’ll be placing speakers close to a rear wall - and many speakers don’t sound at their best in that location, especially when they have rear ports. So I would suggest that that is your starting point.

Try to establish a shortlist of speakers that will work well close to a rear wall in your size room, then ask your dealer to look at an amp that will work well tonally with the chosen speakers.

There are many streamers out there that are very good for comparatively little outlay, so I would personally throw most of your budget at amp and speakers.

But considering the outlay, you really do need to make the effort to visit one or more dealers and listen to as much as you can (within the limitations discussed) to get a feel for what you do and don’t like.

Most experienced members on this forum have made mistakes in the past (I know I have) buying components blind because they were an exceptional deal only to be disappointed. That’s an expensive way to learn.
 

oscroft

Member
For example, how long will KEF be supporting the app the runs the LSX?
That raises something that I won't do, and that's buy an expensive audio product that relies on a manufacturer's app. I don't even like having anything with firmware in it - but there's no choice with things like DACs, and at least they'll carry on working with the current version even if the manufacturer stops support. But if an app doesn't get updated for future operating system upgrades, the equipment can become useless - I've been a victim of expensive hardware having to be thrown out due to a reliance on obsolete software so many times with computer peripherals, that I won't let it happen with my music system.

If I really wanted something run by an app, I'd stick to generic apps as compatibility with multiple manufacturers should make them less likely to disappear in the future. The only thing I do have that's app-dependent is a Logitech Squeezebox - but that's cheap, and there are easy alternative connection methods and software.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I would go half way in between the two -

Yamaha WXC50 preamp streamer - you can add your TV into the optical port and has line in for a CD later. £280


Buying new - and a pair of active speakers and a sub -


or buying second hand Adam A7x (stretches the budget a little with stands (£50) but worth it - front ported so a little less fussy with positioning.

 

Paul7777x

Member
I would go half way in between the two -

Yamaha WXC50 preamp streamer - you can add your TV into the optical port and has line in for a CD later. £280


Buying new - and a pair of active speakers and a sub -


or buying second hand Adam A7x (stretches the budget a little with stands (£50) but worth it - front ported so a little less fussy with positioning.

Imo, the best full range sound you’ll get for your cash.

An excellent way to spend a grand.
 

richtb

Standard Member
There is "different" out there, and opinions as to which is better will vary. I've never heard the KEF LSX, so I'm not offering an opinion on those specifically.

Oh, and what's a few hours traveling compared to the thousands of hours of enjoyment hopefully coming your way? ;)
You make a very good point! I thought I had cracked it but all of the excellent advice on here has led me to moving the attention towards separates, for which I will have to hear for myself before buying. Thanks for your help!
 

richtb

Standard Member
My personal feeling about all in ones systems vs separates is that, in the long term, separates are the better solution. If a significant part of an all in one system becomes obsolete, then the whole system does. For example, how long will KEF be supporting the app the runs the LSX? Just consider the recent flack Sonos have been getting for threatening to make a whole generation of their products obsolete.

I’ll share some advice I heard years ago which really helps to eliminate a whole host of confusing options when you’re starting out and get things down to a sensible shortlist from the barrage of suggestions you may receive (although this advice does only really apply to separates): buy the right speakers for the room, buy the right amp for the speakers and buy the right sources to complement that combo.

Making choices in that order really helps sort the wheat from the chaff.

As others have indicated, your speaker positioning probably dictates that you’ll be placing speakers close to a rear wall - and many speakers don’t sound at their best in that location, especially when they have rear ports. So I would suggest that that is your starting point.

Try to establish a shortlist of speakers that will work well close to a rear wall in your size room, then ask your dealer to look at an amp that will work well tonally with the chosen speakers.

There are many streamers out there that are very good for comparatively little outlay, so I would personally throw most of your budget at amp and speakers.

But considering the outlay, you really do need to make the effort to visit one or more dealers and listen to as much as you can (within the limitations discussed) to get a feel for what you do and don’t like.

Most experienced members on this forum have made mistakes in the past (I know I have) buying components blind because they were an exceptional deal only to be disappointed. That’s an expensive way to learn.

Thank you very much for your advice - you've sold it to me. I really like the look of the KEFs, what would you think about getting the LS50s with a streamer with built in amp?

Also, from what I have seen you can either go streamer and built in amp with passive speakers or streamer pre-amp with active speakers - does either option have more or less the same pros and cons or is one of the options better than the other?

Just out of curiosity - by going down the separates route am I likely to find something that equals the KEF LSX for sound quality, as well as having all of the advantages of buying separates as you have explained?

I will definitely be making the trip to the dealership now :)
 

richtb

Standard Member
This is definitely the thing.
You could buy a decent stereo receiver (Yamaha, Marantz and CA all do good ones) and have £500/£600 for speakers. This is a real sweet spot, with loads of quality options from people like B&W, Dali, Dynaudio etc.
Then, if the upgrade bug hits you in a couple of years, you're not looking at dumping the whole lot and starting again. I started with a very basic system and have just slowly upgraded a piece at time as funds became available. As well as this, once you get to this sort of level there's generally still resale/trade in value in your kit too.
Basically, if you just need a receiver and a good pair of speakers, £1k is a solid budget.
That's great, would a decent combination of separates equal the quality of the all in one LSX in that case? Are there any particular combos that you would recommend?
 

LampPost

Member
I purchased some LSX speakers for a bedroom system, I have to be honest, they are not that great, I now use them as computer speakers...

If you can stretch to a separates system I think you will be happier in the long run.
 

richtb

Standard Member
I would go half way in between the two -

Yamaha WXC50 preamp streamer - you can add your TV into the optical port and has line in for a CD later. £280


Buying new - and a pair of active speakers and a sub -


or buying second hand Adam A7x (stretches the budget a little with stands (£50) but worth it - front ported so a little less fussy with positioning.


Very nice - better sound quality than the LSX's in your opinion? I like the idea of active speakers so option is appealing
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
With the A7X I would say so.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Hi all, ..

1. can I achieve better quality for the same money (£1000) by buying separates. If so, what would you recommend and how would this option exceed the lsx’s?
2. could I achieve the same quality for less money by buying separates. If so what would you recommend?
3. are there are other downside to the kef lsx that I might not have considered?

3.8m by 4.8m - my tv and the speakers will be in the corner of the room if that makes any difference? (12.4 ft x 15.7 ft)

Thank you advance!
Relative to the Speakers/System being in the Corner of the Room, can we assume you have a Fireplace? The curse of all audiophiles.

The KEF LSX are nice, but they are only 4.5" speakers, that's a bit on the small side.


Also, if any one aspect of the LSX fails, you've pretty much lost everything.

Though just the way I'm wired, I recommend Components.

Further, the types of music you listen to - (rock, dance, hip hop) - do not tell me that a compact all-in-one system is the way to go.

Consider this Bundle with a Network Streaming Receiver and decent Bookshelf Speaker at far below your budget -

Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver, AM/FM, 80w/ch, Network Streaming, DAC (2xOpt, 2xCoax, 1xUSB-Media) PLUS Monitor Audio Bronze 2 - £550 -


Here is a Bundle with the Monitor Audio Silver 100, a considerably better speaker -

Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver WITH Monitor Audio Silver 100 Speakers - £850 -


LINKS -




NOTE: The MA Silver 100 is an 8" (200mm) Bookshelf speaker with response down to 40hz. Those are some serious Rock, Dance, Hip-Hop speakers, or to the extent that it is possible with Bookshelf Speakers.

Right now, Yamaha CD Players are in short supply, but these would be perfectly serviceable CD Players -




We can drop down to a lower price if necessary -


The Yamaha RN602 + Monitor Audio 100 would be a kick-a$$ bundle.

You would require speaker stand, and depending on your aesthetic, that can be cheap to modestly priced.

Not making recommendations, but to give you an idea of the general price of Speaker Stands -




You might want to make sure you are getting PAIR of stands for the price and not just One.

These stands are woodgrain finish, and generally reasonable priced, and they can be sand filled.

Edifier S2000MKIII Stands 2 Heavy Duty Speaker Stand Mounts-Wood Grain - £160/pr -

That plus some basic wire and interconnect cables and you are done.

Though there are many source, for reasonable quality at a reasonable price, I've found this company to be pretty good, though there are many others -

KabelDirekt - Amazon -

Amazon - KabelDirekt - All Wire and Cale

Amazon - KabelDirekt Speaker Wire 15m x 2.5mm

Amazon - KabelDirekt - Optical Cable


Amazon - KabelDirekt - RCA Interconnect Cable

Again, just one of many source for wire and cable.

Also, no shortage of Banana Plugs to choose from - Fisual, Nakamichi, Sewell, FosPower, Amazon, KabelDirekt, and others -

Amazon Search - Banana Plugs

Steve/bluewizard
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Here is another more compact alternative -

Amazon-UK - Edifer S3000Pro 6.5" Active Speaker w/Bluetooth - £589/pr

These are Studio Grade speakers. Very clear, and with Bluetooth. Bluetooth would allow you to Stream from any Bluetooth Enabled Device like a Computer, Tablet, Pad, or Smart Phone.

However, it would only take about £150 to add full Network Streaming to the System -


The Edifier also have both Analog and Digital Inputs, so it can be expanded beyond just Bluetooth. (RCA Line, Balanced, Optical, Coaxial, Bluetooth, USB) Also, the Speakers have a Remote Control; always handy.


And the Wooden Speaker stands I linked to previously are a perfect match the the S3000Pro

Edifier S2000MKIII Stands 2 Heavy Duty Speaker Stand Mounts-Wood Grain - £160/pr -

There are many Review and Demos on YouTube of the Edifier Speakers -




S3000Pro (£590) + Yamaha Streamer (£150) + Wood Stand (£160) = £900 TOTAL

You would still require a few Cables, but not really that much. Mainly an Optical for the TV, and that is about it.

Just another thought.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Of course there are other options and modification that can be made. But give us some sense of your impressions of what we have said so far, then we can modify to more closely meet your needs.

Steve/bluewizard
 

richtb

Standard Member
Of course there are other options and modification that can be made. But give us some sense of your impressions of what we have said so far, then we can modify to more closely meet your needs.

Steve/bluewizard
Thank you so much for taking the time to walk me through this. Based on your suggestions I have narrowed it down to the Silver 100 speakers - it's possibility not in the spirit of things here but the decision is more down to aesthetics than sounds quality, although the reviews to the 100's are still very positive! The guy in the Edifier video mentions DSP at the end - in the case of the streamer/amp + passive set up as per your first suggestion, would the DSP be contained in the amp in this case (just for my knowledge)?

Would it be possible to bring KEF LS50 into the equation (with a bit more budget of course) or would this require additional investment in the amp/streamer? Again this is largely down to the way they look, although they do seem been well reviewed.

In terms of the app/streamer solution, the Yahama looks like a pretty decent package from what I can see from various reviews. Unfortunately my local dealer doesn't stock this, but they do stock and have a deal on the Silver 100's + a Marantz Melody X (M-CR612) - the streamer/amp includes a built in CD player, is also smaller in size which would also be more suitable for the corner unit where it will sit.


If there is significant drop in quality with this amp vs the Yamaha, I would of course be happy to drive a bit further to a dealer that stocks the Yamaha to listen to it and problem solve the space issue (quality is still very important to me) - alternatively, is the Yamaha so good that it's a no-brainer and doesn't really need to be listened to, and I could just listen to the Silver 100's in the dealership with the Marantz app and get a good idea of how the Yamaha + Silver 100 package will perform.

And thank you for the stand recommendations. I had actually already been looking at the Atacama nexus stands through watching one of the John Darko videos on YoutTube, so good to see they are a good bet - I've read that you need to fill them to get the best results, is there much of a performance difference between kiln dried sand or Atabites from your experience?
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Thank you so much for taking the time to walk me through this. Based on your suggestions I have narrowed it down to the Silver 100 speakers - it's possibility not in the spirit of things here but the decision is more down to aesthetics than sounds quality, although the reviews to the 100's are still very positive! The guy in the Edifier video mentions DSP at the end - in the case of the streamer/amp + passive set up as per your first suggestion, would the DSP be contained in the amp in this case (just for my knowledge)?

Would it be possible to bring KEF LS50 into the equation (with a bit more budget of course) or would this require additional investment in the amp/streamer? Again this is largely down to the way they look, although they do seem been well reviewed.

In terms of the app/streamer solution, the Yahama looks like a pretty decent package from what I can see from various reviews. Unfortunately my local dealer doesn't stock this, but they do stock and have a deal on the Silver 100's + a Marantz Melody X (M-CR612) - the streamer/amp includes a built in CD player, is also smaller in size which would also be more suitable for the corner unit where it will sit.


If there is significant drop in quality with this amp vs the Yamaha, I would of course be happy to drive a bit further to a dealer that stocks the Yamaha to listen to it and problem solve the space issue (quality is still very important to me) - alternatively, is the Yamaha so good that it's a no-brainer and doesn't really need to be listened to, and I could just listen to the Silver 100's in the dealership with the Marantz app and get a good idea of how the Yamaha + Silver 100 package will perform.

And thank you for the stand recommendations. I had actually already been looking at the Atacama nexus stands through watching one of the John Darko videos on YoutTube, so good to see they are a good bet - I've read that you need to fill them to get the best results, is there much of a performance difference between kiln dried sand or Atabites from your experience?
I started out with an earlier version of the MCR years ago. It's a good little all rounder and has a perfectly good sound. My mother-in-law still has mine, and i always thinks that it sounds decent whenever it's on. That's with QA 2020i as well, which i assume are nowhere near the level of the silver 100's. I think the Marantz MCR range is mildly underrated.
 

richtb

Standard Member
That's good to know. I've just noticed that the Silver 100's are a bit on the large side - would moving down to the smaller Silver 50's lose much in my sized room? (3.8m by 4.8m)
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
That i can't help with. You could always add a sub later if not. The marantz has the outputs for one. Also, smaller speakers go further than you think in normal sized rooms.
 

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