Low Budget Amp and Speakers recommendations

redbulluk

Standard Member
Low Budget Amp and Speakers recommendations please
I'm a relative noob with a tiny budget for an amp and speakers. I've been reading and reading, but just getting completely overwhelmed with opinions.
All I really want to do is run Spotify from my laptop in my front room and get a pretty decent sound. I'm no expert and don't need the best, I just don't want it to sound awful.
No particular space limitations, though max height for speakers is around 600mm.
£300-400 in total
Not sure if it's better to look at 2nd hand/a few years old, or cheaper new products?
 

Spiritwalker27

Active Member
I'm no great expert but experience and listening to people much better qualified than me to comment has brought me to the conclusion that only hearing for yourself will really tell you whats good or not. Thst said forewarned is forearmed.

Do you want floorstanders or bookshelf speakers? I had and wished i hadn't sold some tannoy Mercury M20 gold which for the money were ace, about £100 but you can get cheaper. As for a cheap amp, nad 3130 and the like can be had for less than £100, or maybe a rega brio 2000 if you can push it out a bit. There's lots of good kit to be picked up cheap. I have never bought a new piece of kit in over 20 years buying kit. Mind you, I am tight but never had an issue with anything bought second hand.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I’d start and finish with a dac/preamp and a pair of active speakers.

For your budget, that’s easily the way to get the best quality sound for your money.

First, this bargain


(You can also add your tv to it should you wish).

Then.

Two of these.


Or these two

 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Plus a pair of these (3 metres, but any length is available).

 

gava

Active Member
Fiio K5 Pro is also a reasonable option for a desktop headphone amp & active pre-amp.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
If you’d like prettier ones then these are generally very much considered impressive. And a good discount too.

Bluetooth included.

You can also add your tv through the optical input here too and there’s an analogue input for any future additions.

 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member

Ugg10

Distinguished Member

redbulluk

Standard Member
I'm no great expert but experience and listening to people much better qualified than me to comment has brought me to the conclusion that only hearing for yourself will really tell you whats good or not. Thst said forewarned is forearmed.

Do you want floorstanders or bookshelf speakers? I had and wished i hadn't sold some tannoy Mercury M20 gold which for the money were ace, about £100 but you can get cheaper. As for a cheap amp, nad 3130 and the like can be had for less than £100, or maybe a rega brio 2000 if you can push it out a bit. There's lots of good kit to be picked up cheap. I have never bought a new piece of kit in over 20 years buying kit. Mind you, I am tight but never had an issue with anything bought second hand.
Thanks for the reply.
Sorry, I should have said - I have a unit which I built which these would sit on (it's heavy timber top, with cut-down scaffold poles as legs.
 

redbulluk

Standard Member
I’d start and finish with a dac/preamp and a pair of active speakers.

For your budget, that’s easily the way to get the best quality sound for your money.

First, this bargain


(You can also add your tv to it should you wish).

Then.

Two of these.


Or these two

Thanks Paul

Possibly a stupid question, but as far as I understand it, Active speakers have a built in amp right? If so, why the need for a pre-amp? Is it just to improve / boost the sound ?
 

gava

Active Member
You need some way of DAC for decoding your digital signal (the one in your laptop is horrible).

And also to control volume.

One other idea is to use Fiio BTR5 it has USB so that you can connect it to your laptop, but it also has Bluetooth so you can stream from your phone and laptop too.

Plug that into a nice set of actives and you will be set.

In fact I am listening right now to a 30-year-old pair of wharf dale actives that I decided to bring on holiday to a little cottage we are renting for a week.
 

password1

Distinguished Member
You could do a lot worse than a pair of Mission lx2 mark 2.

I can put you in touch with a guy who sells refurbished / serviced amps for extra peace of mind compared to buying used from a private seller.

You can get a decent amp for £100 or less which I garantee will be tested and serviced and fully working.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Thanks Paul

Possibly a stupid question, but as far as I understand it, Active speakers have a built in amp right? If so, why the need for a pre-amp? Is it just to improve / boost the sound ?

No silly questions here sir.

In essence an amplifier is a two part item.

There is the source selection and volume control part: the preamp.

And the part that drives speaker cones: the power amp.

In active real speakers (not powered) each cone is driven by its own dedicated power amplifier. One per driver. So a pair of active speakers will have four drivers and four power amps.

The preamp part is then a separate box and is needed to switch sources (cd, telly, streamer, TT for instance) and, crucially of course to control the volume of the speakers.

For hifi systems that generally means a good dac/preamp and a pair of actives is better than a passive system by a considerable margin.
 

redbulluk

Standard Member
No silly questions here sir.

In essence an amplifier is a two part item.

There is the source selection and volume control part: the preamp.

And the part that drives speaker cones: the power amp.

In active real speakers (not powered) each cone is driven by its own dedicated power amplifier. One per driver. So a pair of active speakers will have four drivers and four power amps.

The preamp part is then a separate box and is needed to switch sources (cd, telly, streamer, TT for instance) and, crucially of course to control the volume of the speakers.

For hifi systems that generally means a good dac/preamp and a pair of actives is better than a passive system by a considerable margin.
Makes sense. Thanks for explaining
 

redbulluk

Standard Member
I’d start and finish with a dac/preamp and a pair of active speakers.

For your budget, that’s easily the way to get the best quality sound for your money.

First, this bargain


(You can also add your tv to it should you wish).

Then.

Two of these.


Or these two

Just wanted to say thanks again. Just set up the Adam Audio T5Vs with the AMSL Sanskrit and it sounds superb 👍
 

redbulluk

Standard Member

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Great new, happy to have been of help.

In order to maximise sound quality I tend to leave the volume to the very last piece of equipment in the chain. So I run any app at max volume, run the windows system volume at 100% and then use the dac to control volume.

In addition, to maximise the volume in the dac I set it to 50% and then alter the volume on the active speakers to my usual listening volume (note this may only be 25-50% on the speaker volume). There should then be a decent amount of volume increase in case you fance a bit of a blast but is making the maximum amount of data available and minimising the chance of any software truncating the data. Also worth balancing the volume of the two speakers using a free phone SPL app. Just set one as above (the other speaker off), measure at say 30cm (ruler), not the dB(A) and then swicth that one off, turn the other one and repeat adjusting the second speaker volume until you get the same dB(A) volume.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Just wanted to say thanks again. Just set up the Adam Audio T5Vs with the AMSL Sanskrit and it sounds superb 👍
Just wanted to say thanks again. Just set up the Adam Audio T5Vs with the AMSL Sanskrit and it sounds superb 👍

I’m delighted you’re pleased :smashin:

It’s quite impressive these days how little it can cost for very good sound quality.
 

Michael Larkin

Active Member
Really cheering to see that redbull got a system he's happy with!

I had been trying to think of an inexpensive system when I read his OP and what immediately occurred was the modest setup I have in my study comprising items available from Amazon -- a pair of Edifier1280T powered bookshelves (£90), plus a Prozor 192KHz DAC with a volume control (£21). I've had these for several years and there have been no issues with them.

If he didn't have an optical spdif on his laptop (which I do have on my desktop in the study), he'd need at least a Behringer UC202 (£18) to connect it to the Prozor. Add in, say, £10 for any extra cables he might need, and he'd have been up and running for £139 or possibly a bit less.

I've absolutely no doubt that the system he's ended up with will sound better -- after all, both the speakers and the DAC are definitely superior to mine -- but still, it's surprising how good the cheaper system sounds. Moreover, the Edifiers have a second pair of RCA inputs that I can feed from a TV that's also in the study. So when there, I can watch TV, listen to music, or watch/listen to Youtube.

I'm posting this because there might be other people who don't want to spend a lot improving the sound of their computers, and this is a cost-effective way of doing that with equipment I know to be reliable.
 

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